But not all sows will be locked up for Christmas

It’s always a pleasure to see greenie grouch Sue Kedgley get her come-uppance in the House. Hence Alf enjoyed yesterday’s Question Time, before we got into the tedium of the ETS legislation.

Sue was banging on about pig farming, codes of welfare, and what-have-you.

She asked Alf’s mate David Carter, our worthy Minister of Agriculture, if he stood by his statement of 20 May 2009 “I would like to be able to issue a new code of welfare for pigs by the end of this year”. She also asked if he was confident this would be achieved.

Carter replied:

Yes, I am confident. The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee is on course to release the code at some stage next month.

Sue Kedgley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I very carefully worded my question to say “to issue a new code of welfare”. All that the Minister talked about was issuing a code for consultation. It will take another 6 months to get the new code. That was the question.

Mr SPEAKER: There is a limit to how much I can judge the quality of Ministers’ answers. From my hearing of the Minister’s answer he said, in response to the member’s question, “yes.” If she is not convinced that his “yes” was exactly the “yes” she was after, my advice to her would be to drill further down into that with her supplementary question.

Sue Kedgley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There is a lot of interest in whether the Minister’s promise to have the code completed this year will be met. This is a completely different issue.

Mr SPEAKER: I can easily think of a supplementary question, following the Minister’s answer, that would assist the member to get exactly the information she wants. I cannot, for the life of me, work out why she does not ask that question. The member has a supplementary question available.

It can take some time for Kedgley to take a hint, but this time the hint was bloody strong and she took it to ask:

How can New Zealanders believe that this Government is serious about animal welfare, when the Minister cannot even keep his promise to have the pig code completely reviewed and a new one issued by the end of this year, with the result that 20,000 sows will spend their Christmas locked up in cages where they cannot turn round?

Hon DAVID CARTER: I have, on many occasions, patiently tried to explain to the member that there is a process under the Act by which the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee develops the code and releases it for submission, and once the submissions have been heard the committee finalises the code and presents it to me. That is the law that must be adhered to. I am not about to ride roughshod over that law.

Sue Kedgley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would like to table a document, because I think it is in the public interest. It is a press release, and it is where—

Mr SPEAKER: From what publication?

Sue Kedgley: It is from the New Zealand Herald of 10 November 2009.

Mr SPEAKER: The member will resume her seat. That is totally contrary to the ruling I made just a few days ago. The document is from a mainstream newspaper of recent days, and therefore I will not be seeking leave. The member will not use the point of order process to try to make her political point.

Sue Kedgley: Mr Speaker, does your ruling apply even when one believes that the article contains very significant information that contradicts what the Minister has just said?

Mr SPEAKER: The reason why the ruling was made is that articles from the New Zealand Herald are readily available to members. If members are interested in this matter, I am sure they will have followed it through the New Zealand Herald.

As Alf said, she can be slow to take a hint. Another way of putting it is that she can be a pain in the arse.

Alf remembers her posing for press photographers in a sow stall once. It struck him at the time that she looked very much at home there.

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