Legislative Council Wednesday 23 June, 2021
Ms FORREST question to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Mrs HISCUTT
1. With regard to the assessment of animal welfare in agricultural operations:
a. How many employees/officers are engaged by the Department of Primary Industries to assess and investigate animal welfare concerns;
b. What qualifications does each employee/officer have relevant to the undertaking of this task;
2. With regard to animal welfare concerns raised at the Van Dairy VDL Farms owned by Moonlake:
a. What assessments have been undertaken on the Van Dairy VDL Farms owned by Moonlake in Circular Head in the last 24 months;
b. What findings were made regarding these assessments.
c. What is the timeframe between notification and physical assessment; and
d. What collaboration with the RSPCA has occurred during this period?
1a State-wide, DPIPWE employs nine (9) officers appointed under the Animal Welfare Act 1993 with special responsibility for administering the Act. An additional three (3) animal welfare officers will be recruited soon, making a total of twelve (12) specialists in animal welfare matters.
In addition, the Office of Racing Integrity has two officers appointed under the Act.
Biosecurity Tasmania and the RSPCA Inspectorate have a formal arrangement in place in relation to responding to and investigating allegations or reports of cruelty. The RSPCA currently has five inspectors (officers under the Animal Welfare Act 1993).
1b All Officers undergo in-house specified training and assessment of their knowledge of the Tasmanian animal welfare legislation. There is also in-house training in relation to compliance and enforcement procedures and animal welfare standards and guidelines. Officers include veterinarians (currently four) who possess a veterinary degree. All officers are experienced in livestock or supported by experienced officers, all with either formal relevant qualifications and/or extensive experience.
2a & b The Van Dairy VDL Farms have been visited 14 times in the last 24 months by Biosecurity Tasmania staff. There have been eight (8) animal welfare reports which have each been investigated with a site visit, with one requiring a revisit to confirm structural modifications. All other visits were liaison and extension visits with a focus on animal welfare training and awareness for farm staff. Many of these events focussed on calf sheds and calf management.
There have been no prosecutions under the act relating to Van Dairy VDL Farms in the 24 months period.
Biosecurity Tasmania continues to monitor the current situation and engage with VDL property managers and owners in relation to their obligations under the Animal Welfare Act.
2c Generally, and dependent on exact circumstances, an inspection will be made within one week, but often it is more immediate.
Dependent on exact circumstances an inspection will be made with immediacy or generally within one week.
2d The first point of contact for all animal welfare complaints in Tasmania is provided by the RSPCA. By agreement, complaints relating to commercial production animals are referred to Biosecurity Tasmania for investigation. The RSPCA undertakes investigations and implements appropriate actions in response to all other complaints.
The RSPCA is not precluded from any investigation if they wish to participate. The RSPCA is not known to have visited any of the Van Dairy VDL Farms in this period.
Joint training is conducted with the RSPCA.