Mr Walsh (Murray Plains) (16:44:26): I rise to make the lead contribution on behalf of the Liberal and National parties on the Primary Industries Legislation Amendment Bill 2019. All those who have actually read the bill would realise that this is basically the same bill that was debated in this house back in 2017, the Primary Industries Legislation Amendment Bill 2017. It is an omnibus bill that amends quite a large number of pieces of legislation. In some ways I feel like saying: can I just have my speech from that time incorporated, because I will probably say a lot of the same things, because it is exactly the same bill. But I will work through the bill systematically by discussing those pieces of legislation that are amended by this bill. The first piece of legislation repealed by this bill is the Broiler Chicken Industry Act 1978. When I spoke about this two years ago I particularly mentioned a gentleman called Wally Shaw, who is a former president of the Victorian Farmers Federation. He actually preceded me as president of the Victorian Farmers Federation. He was a chicken meat grower and the president of the chicken meat industry for over 30 years here in Victoria, and he was the person that led the group to actually have that legislation, the Broiler Chicken Industry Act 1978, introduced in this Parliament so that that industry had regulation and protection. In some ways it was modelled on the Tomato Processing Industry Act 1976. I came from the tomato industry and understood that act and the systems that act gave us as tomato growers to negotiate with processors to set prices, and it did the same for the broiler industry here in Victoria once it was brought in. To get to the point where there was legislation, I know Wally, as the leader of that industry, led a number of strikes where the chicken broiler growers at the time actually refused to take day-old chickens until they could actually come to an accommodation with the chicken processors to get a decent price for those chicken birds, because at that time there was an imbalance in negotiating strength between a small number of chicken processors and a large number of broiler growers. That legislation was brought in to help correct that imbalance in negotiating position in the same way that the tomato industry legislation was brought in for the tomato industry at that particular time. That legislation was very successful for a long time, but the chicken industry negotiating committee has not met since 2001, so the legislation has been sitting on the legislative books for a long time and not enacted. Currently the industry has an exemption under the ACCC act to directly negotiate between growers and processors. Through the time of that legislation I can remember it was the Public Bodies Review Committee of this Parliament that reviewed a large number of instrumentalities that were covered by legislation from the Victorian Parliament, and both the tomato industry act and the chicken meat industry act were reviewed at that particular time. The Public Bodies Review Committee held hearings which both Wally and I attended, and Bernie Dunn in the other place was part of that committee when he was in the Parliament here. Part of that report explained that there was a need for legislation like the Broiler Chicken Industry Act 1978 and the Tomato Industry Act 1975 to stop the exploitation of growers by processors, be it in the tomato or the chicken industry, so the legislation actually continued for quite a lot longer than those that were trying to get rid of it by putting submissions in to the Public Bodies Review Committee. Following on from that I can remember going out and presenting to the Industries Assistance Commission, which was a predecessor of what is now the Productivity Commission, about the benefit of having the negotiation strength of growers coming together to deal with processors. But eventually events overrode both the tomato industry and the chicken industry, and their legislation was lost. Can I put on the record again, like I did last time I spoke on this legislation, my appreciation for and acknowledgement of all the work that Wally Shaw did in making sure this legislation was there for the chicken growers. I know when I was the minister for agriculture the department actually put forward to me that perhaps as the minister for agriculture I might have liked to have repealed this piece of legislation. For the decency of the record, I will not use all the words that I used to the department. But effectively I said that there was no way known that I, as a personal friend of Wally Shaw, who had been a mentor of mine, would be the minister that repealed the legislation that he fought so hard to get. So it has sat on the statute books for quite a few more years since we were in government. The government tried again in 2017 and it did not happen. It is here again now and most likely it will be repealed in the future. It amends the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994. This is about the ability of the department effectively to recover costs. I know this is issued for the control of pest animals or pest weeds. One of the challenges the department has is that if they do issue an order and the farmer does not comply and they then send in a contractor to control the pest animals or the pest weeds, they then have to have a civil action to recover that money from that particular landholder, which is a long, convoluted and expensive process. So this simplifies the way they can recover costs. I do note in talking about that particular issue that if you look at the output figures in the budget for the department over the last few years the number of property inspections the department has been doing is reducing. One of the concerns that farmers have is that there is not enough compliance work done by the department on those recalcitrant neighbours who do not control their pest animals or do not control their pest weeds. I know I have met with a number of Landcare groups over the years that do a lot of good work in their community controlling whatever particular pest weed or pest animal is in that community, but if there are one or two that do not do it, then the weed seeds blow around the district and reinfest properties, or if it is rabbits or foxes, then they breed up and invade other properties. So hopefully these extra powers, where the department will be able to recover costs for clean-up notices for pest plants or pest animals, might encourage them to actually go out and do more compliance checks and particularly issue orders whereby pest animals and pest plants are controlled into the future. The next piece of legislation that this omnibus bill amends is the Dairy Act 2000. What this change does is actually bring camel milk into being regulated under Dairy Food Safety Victoria. The last time I spoke about this, at that stage I had two camel dairies in my electorate, and I believe there is only one functioning now. There is the camel milk company in Kyabram; Megan and Chris Williams have a camel milk dairy there. The challenge they had while waiting for this legislation to go through—it is a pity it did not go through two years ago—was that their regulation was actually under the Local Government Act 1989, and it will not be under Dairy Food Safety Victoria until this legislation is actually passed and given royal assent. So they are not regulated by Dairy Food Safety Victoria, they are regulated by local government. When I was dealing with them at that particular time local government did not know what they needed to do to regulate a camel milk farm, which effectively left them stranded in no man’s land as to how they could get the licence to do what they wanted to do. So this legislation will simplify that into the future for those that want to run a camel dairy, where they will come under Dairy Food Safety Victoria. Effectively it makes sure that all processing of milk from animals is actually dealt with by Dairy Food Safety Victoria into the future. It is quite a challenging business to run a camel dairy. There are some unique challenges which I think I spoke about last time on this legislation as well. Having had the opportunity to visit a number of very large cow dairies and camel dairies in the Middle East, the whole concept of shedding and milking cows is something that has happened over hundreds of years, and they are very domesticated. The challenge with camels is that once the young camel is taken away it is very hard to get the milk out of the camel; you actually have to keep the young close by so that they will actually let their milk down to be milked. So there are some unique challenges, but there is a market for those that want camel milk. I know in the Middle East particularly, although it is a lot more expensive and a lot more difficult to get camel milk, the sheikhs there believe that their children should have camel milk rather than cow’s milk. I know there is a growing ethnic community in Victoria that would prefer to have camel milk to cow’s milk. So it is great that there are people taking the opportunity to supply that particular market into the future with camel milk, and this legislation will mean that they will be able to go about their business a lot more simply with the regulation under Dairy Food Safety Victoria. The other one I want to briefly speak on is amendments to the Fisheries Act 1995. The particular change here is around allowing those eight licences that are still fishing in Port Phillip Bay to be able to surrender their licences earlier and allow them to take their compensation early. That is something that they have sought. I think with the buyout of the other licences in Port Phillip these particular fishers would also like to exit the industry now, and this gives them the opportunity to do that. It also transfers the powers and functions of the fisheries Licensing Appeals Tribunal to VCAT to simplify it and bring it into line with other licensing processes here in Victoria. Given we also have legislation in this house being dealt with about the buyout of the Gippsland Lakes commercial licences, there are probably not a lot of Victorian licences left in Victoria for the Licensing Appeals Tribunal to deal with. Whether that has been a good thing over the long term or whether it has not, given that we now import most of the fish that we eat, I think it is something that we do need to think about, as to where our fish will come from in the future. The amendments that I would also like to spend a little bit of time talking about are amendments to the Game Management Authority Act 2014. In relation to that particular amendment I would like to circulate a reasoned amendment in my name. I move: That all the words after ‘That’ be omitted and replaced with the words ‘this house refuses to read this bill a second time until the government has consulted with game hunting stakeholders about the role of the Game Management Authority in promoting responsible game hunting and proposed additional guiding principles to regulate and improve the game hunting sector’. This legislation makes some changes to the Game Management Authority, particularly around issues of the way the board functions, and it talks about how the government will set some priorities for the Game Management Authority. But the reason I am moving this reasoned amendment is that last time this legislation was dealt with in our house and it then went across to the other place, Daniel Young from the Shooters and Fishers actually moved textual amendments to this legislation in the other place. They were actually passed and that bill came back to this house, and I was actually the sponsor and reintroduced the amended bill into this house back at that particular time. My understanding is that because, I assume, the government of the day did not want the legislation passed with those changes to the Game Management Authority the bill then just sat on the notice paper for over 12 months and obviously lapsed with the proroguing of the Parliament last year. What I am doing by moving this reasoned amendment is signalling to the government, to this house and to the other house—when the legislation gets there—is that in the other place we will actually be reintroducing the textual amendments that Mr Young actually proposed last time to that particular piece of legislation. So that is the reason for moving the reasoned amendment. The intent behind that is: if you look at the new Victorian Fisheries Authority, it has set out very similar intents to what we would like to see put into the Game Management Authority—that not only are they a regulator of the industry but they are actually there to promote the industry and in this case promote responsible hunting in Victoria. When we were in government we did a study of the economic benefits of hunting in Victoria, and that found that there was over $400 million worth of economic benefit from hunting in Victoria. A lot of that economic benefit went into our regional councils, and from memory the Shire of Wellington in Gippsland and the Shire of Gannawarra in the north in my electorate were the two local government areas that benefited the most from hunting. We would like to see the hunting sector promoted and grow in Victoria because there is an economic benefit for the whole state and particularly an economic benefit for regional Victoria. There are some that would like to see the hunting industry closed down. There are some who are violently opposed to duck shooting, for argument’s sake, in this state, and what I would say to those people is that it is a legal activity and it is a multigenerational pursuit where whole families go away duck shooting, camping, enjoying the great outdoors and actually creating food for themselves to eat. I would love the government in this house to actually support our reasoned amendment. I am not that optimistic to think that they will support our reasoned amendment, but I look forward to the debate in the other place. Some of the crossbenchers may have support for this legislation where those changes to the Game Management Authority might actually happen. Another piece of this legislation that I want to talk about are the changes to the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994, particularly the changes around how the money from the Cattle Compensation Fund and the Sheep and Goat Compensation Fund will be spent. At the moment the legislation specifies that they can only spend the interest from that legislation on projects or programs that benefit the industry. This changes it so that in the future capital will be able to be spent as well on projects and programs that benefit their respective industries. Currently that capital is reserved for compensation for major disease outbreaks, but this opens it up for the capital to be spent. A word of caution, I suppose: these particular changes to the Livestock Disease Control Act would be making sure that the department still does have to go to the particular committees of those funds to get the okay as to how the money is spent, but there is a degree of nervousness, I think, from some in the industry that the department may look at these funds as effectively a recurrent expenditure body that can help make up for some of the funding that is created by the shortfall from the government into these particular sectors within the departments. Although the Liberal-Nationals will not be opposing that legislation, we would like to make sure that there are very, very good guarantees that the department is not going to start to use these compensation funds that are collected from contributions from the sale of cattle and the sale of sheep or goats to actually make up for a reduction in recurrent funding to the department. The other piece of legislation I want to talk on is the amendments to the Melbourne Market Authority Act 1977. For the Melbourne Market Authority, effectively the changes here are around the amount of money that can be spent by the authority without getting ministerial approval. It lifts from $500 000 to $750 000. I suppose, in talking about the Melbourne Market Authority and the Melbourne Market, for those who have ever been involved with the Melbourne Market there has always been a fair amount of controversy around the people in the market and the rents that are charged—the costs of the rents. I know the current incumbents out at the market are very unhappy about the automatic increases that are happening in the rents since they moved out to Epping. They are also very unhappy about the price of power and the price of refrigeration. I think if anyone wanted to get up early and go out to the Melbourne Market and walk through the stalls out there they would find that most people are pretty concerned about the costs of doing business in the market, the costs they are paying in rent and power and refrigeration and the fact that with the dominance of the supermarkets there is less produce actually going through the markets and there is more produce going direct to supermarkets. There is a real squeeze on people out there. I had the opportunity to actually attend a Fresh State ball a couple of weeks ago where they gave awards for the various stakeholders in the market. There is a real culture around the market. It is a great culture and there are great people there, but they are doing it tough with the increased costs of doing business and the reduction in throughput with produce going direct to the supermarkets. But it was very pleasing to see Lou Gazzola, who I have known for years—the Gazzola family are down on the Mornington Peninsula—receive a This Is Your Life award at that particular ball for the decades that he had actually spent at the Melbourne Market and for the work that he has done with the vegetable growers here in Victoria. It was great to see Lou get that particular recognition. The third generation of that family is now still involved in the Melbourne Market and growing vegetables here in Victoria. The other thing I would like to just mention while I am talking about the Melbourne Market is the issue of how they have tried to treat some innovation in this particular state. Steritech is a business that runs an irradiation business in Brisbane and was looking to come to Victoria. They had such an unpleasant experience—that is the most polite way I could put it—in actually dealing with the market authority; they wanted to actually set up at Melbourne Market so they could irradiate fruit that was being exported or was going interstate from a pest point of view, particularly from a fruit fly point of view. They found the Melbourne Market Authority were that unreasonable to deal with that they had to set up down the road away from the market, which means a lot of double handling of produce now out of the market if it is going to go to Steritech, be irradiated and then be taken to the airport or taken to the port to be sent out. It is just a pity that the Melbourne Market Authority could not have actually worked through the issues that Steritech had so that Steritech could have actually set up at Melbourne market. They could have actually made sure that they value-added to the produce that went there rather than pushing extra pricing onto growers that would have to take stuff from the market to Steritech and then take it to the airport or to the port. The other piece of legislation that is amended by this omnibus bill is the Meat Industry Act 1993, and this is a core part of this legislation that a lot of people are waiting to get through. There are people who were sweating on actually getting this changed when this bill was originally introduced back in 2017 but have had to wait. This is around the issue of mobile abattoirs and the opportunity for small‑scale producers here in Victoria to be able to access mobile abattoirs. Chris Balazs is someone who is actually really wanting to get this legislation through and set up a mobile abattoir here in Victoria. As I said the last time I spoke on this, I had the opportunity at that time to go to a couple of SproutX presentations. SproutX is an agri-tech business incubator where those with innovation come along and do a pitch for investment to further develop their particular concept in agricultural technology. Chris actually did a presentation at one of those SproutX presentations that I went along to on his development of this particular mobile abattoir process. In the time that this legislation was resting on the notice paper prior to the election and the time taken to come back in this term of government, New South Wales has introduced legislation now that does allow mobile abattoirs, and Chris has a mobile abattoir that he is operating in southern New South Wales very successfully. It was only a couple of weeks ago that he made contact with our office asking when this legislation was finally ever going to be debated, because it has sat on the notice paper this time for a period of time as well. But this legislation will enable Chris and others like him to set up mobile abattoirs where they will go onto property and kill and butcher livestock rather than that livestock having to be carted long distances to the larger abattoirs, which is particularly relevant for smaller producers who do not have a large number of stock to process. There are also changes in the Meat Industry Act 1993 around implementation of the Sustainable Hunting Action Plan. This will also enable game meat to be harvested and game meat to be processed for the hunter’s personal consumption, so if it is someone that has shot deer and wants to process that meat for their own personal use, it will not be captured by the licensing arrangements of this particular act. It is a bit like the discussion earlier about pest plants and animals. Deer in Victoria are out of control. If you talk to anyone in the High Country or now even down out of the High Country, there are deer everywhere; you are finding that the outer suburbs of Melbourne are now having issues with road accidents because of collisions with deer. There was an article in the Weekly Times only recently about a number of smaller wineries up in the Strathbogies that are having trouble with deer coming in and destroying their vines. Any way that we can find a useful purpose for deer meat will help lead to the control of deer, so this allows for the personal use of deer meat without being captured in the licensing of the Meat Industry Act. One of the things that I would like to see is that we open up the industry further to allow the use of deer carcasses into pet food. Unfortunately the current Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change and the current Minister for Agriculture do not appear to be handling well the trial of using culled kangaroos for pet food. I think it was working very, very well. That looks like it is not going to continue after October unless there is a change of heart from the government, or if it is going to continue, it is going to continue in such a way that it is going to be impractical to make it work. If you think that there are hundreds and hundreds of thousands of deer running around Victoria, they are breeding and there are more all the time, there is a lot of protein there that could be used, particularly in the pet food system, rather than having it shot and quite often just left there to feed wild dogs and foxes. If you leave that food source there for wild dogs and foxes, they are going to breed up even more and cause more trouble, more predation of not only our native fauna but also domestic animals. So these changes to the mobile abattoirs and to the personal use of deer are a step in the right direction, but we need to open that industry up more if we can into the future. The last couple of things I want to touch on in the few minutes left are changes to the Plant Biosecurity Act 2010, which is about providing additional support for the potato and viticulture industries in making sure you control two insect pests—grape phylloxera and potato cyst nematode. Those that know anything about the wine industry, the grape industry, would know that the grape industry in Victoria was nearly wiped out back in the early 1900s with phylloxera. They have now gone across to phylloxera-resistant rootstock for a lot of their grapes, but there are areas that are phylloxera-free, and this assists with the knowledge and the control of moving grape material between areas to make sure those that are phylloxera-free stay phylloxera-free, and the same with potato cyst nematode, PCN, which is a really big issue for Victorian potato growers around being able to not only export potatoes but also send potatoes interstate. Unless they have got a certificate that they are PCN free, they actually cannot send potatoes to Sydney or to Brisbane to be processed or into the ware market in those particular markets up there. The last thing to touch on is the Veterinary Practice Act 1997. This is about enabling the Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board to hear unprofessional conduct cases. It simplifies the process there and increases the maximum penalties for serious professional misconduct in the veterinary industry. The veterinary industry—not only with commercial and production animals but particularly with domestic animals, with the numbers of pet dogs and cats that we have in Victoria—is a huge industry, and this enables it to be better regulated into the future. So in finishing off can I just again draw the other side of the house’s attention to the reasoned amendment that I have moved and the further amendments we will move in the other place to make changes to the Game Management Authority to better align it with the Victorian Fisheries Authority about having the Game Management Authority not being a regulating body but also actually promoting responsible hunting in this state, which as I said earlier not only increases the economic activity of the state but is a major benefit to a lot of the regional communities where people do actually go hunting. Whether it be duck hunting in the north, in Gannawarra and those shires, or in Wellington down in the east, or whether it be deer hunting as I spoke about, with changes to the Meat Industry Act, there are huge opportunities for sustainable hunting in this state, responsible hunting—something that I think is a great part of our community and our society—and I would hate to see the lefty crazies out of Melbourne stop those things happening in country Victoria.