Legislative Council: Thursday, October 19, 2023


Sheep and Goat Electronic Identification

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (14:27): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development on the topic of sheep and goat electronic identification.

Leave granted.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: Livestock South Australia president, Joe Keynes—

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Just hang on. Government benches, silence! Leader of the Opposition, the question, please.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: I didn't realise it excited them so much, Mr President.

The Hon. J.E. Hanson: It's all these farm animals.

The PRESIDENT: Order, the Hon. Mr Hanson!

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: Livestock SA president, Joe Keynes—

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Hood!

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: —in a recent article in the Stock Journal said, and I quote:

If it has taken four months to get the rebate side for producers sorted, it will take a lot longer for the saleyards and processors to come to an agreement with the government on the infrastructure and then the work needs to be done so meeting the 1st January 2025 looks like it will be a real struggle.

My questions to the minister are:

1. What does the minister say in response to comments made by Livestock SA president, Joe Keynes?

2. Is the minister still standing by the January 2025 date for the full rollout of the scheme?

3. Given the sharp drop in sheep prices in saleyards across the state and the nation, has the minister engaged with local producers about their ability to absorb the extra cost to their business at a time when farmers are struggling with some of the toughest conditions in decades?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:29): I thank the honourable member for her questions. We are keen to continue to work closely with industry. We have been doing that since day one, and we continue to do that both directly through my meeting with various representative organisations and also, of course, through my department. The dates that we have announced—which, indeed, those opposite called for in terms of certainty. They said how important certainty was for the producers, and therefore it was important to get those dates out and made public. I think it is quite fascinating that they are now wanting to change—

Members interjecting:


The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: —those dates and introduce more uncertainty for those producers. I am very keen at the moment to continue to work through—

Members interjecting:


The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: —including the implementation committee and taking their advice, because that is important to make sure that we have the whole supply chain on the journey, are able to provide input to what they would like to see in terms of the implementation of this very important change. I think it is also worth noting that there is not one single view, one sole view and unanimous view, from producers, either. For example, I have a quote here from a producer in Western Australia. The reason that is relevant is that Western Australia has recently announced some changes to their time line. He says:

Change is a hard thing and no one likes change but if you can see benefits in not only biosecurity but productivity, market access and traceability, it's definitely a plus for us in livestock to be able to conduct business and operate under that system.

He goes on to then say:

…we need to implement this system sooner rather than later.

It is important to recall what the reasons for this change are. It is about biosecurity. It is about traceability. It is about ensuring that we have the best response in the event of an incursion of disease and that we can both deal with that as quickly as possible and, just as importantly, in the event of such an outbreak, then regain market access as soon as possible. Some producers I have spoken with have certainly indicated that, while they are clearly experiencing the drop in prices for a lot of livestock, they also see how devastating it would be if there were an outbreak of disease such as foot-and-mouth disease and that having appropriate traceability processes in place would be even more important in that scenario.