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Estimates: Questions on phasing out battery cages for hens

During Parliamentary Budget Estimates on Wednesday 28 July 2021, I asked whether the Government would commit to phase out battery cages for hens. 

You can read the answers below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).

Mr BERKMAN: My question is in relation to the proposal to phase out battery cages for laying hens. The minister would be aware of the draft recommendations from the independent panel on poultry welfare which includes a recommendation to phase out battery cages. I understand that those recommendations will be presented to the Agriculture Senior Officials Committee in mid-August. Minister, will the Queensland government support that recommendation to phase out battery cages and will our officials be confirming that position at the meeting in August?

CHAIR: Minister, this involves a hypothetical and obviously does not relate directly to the expenditures. Did you want to deal with this issue briefly?

Mr FURNER: Thank you, Chair, and I thank the member for his question. I acknowledge his interest in the care of animals. Certainly that is one thing this government is very proud about. This is a matter that is traditionally dealt with through the agriculture ministerial meetings. We have had one this year, a short meeting of one hour, and no doubt that is matter that will be considered hopefully before the next meeting, which is at this stage early next year or later this year depending on this pandemic. I am looking forward to seeing that on the agenda.

Mr BERKMAN: Going directly to the point of the question, does the government support a recommendation from that federal panel, as I understand it, to phase out the use of battery cages? With regard to the meeting you have referred to, will we use that opportunity to confirm our support for that position?

Mr SMITH: The minister may well wish to answer, but I wonder if this is not a matter that would have to go before cabinet and therefore not be discussed in the committee meeting.

CHAIR: There are a number of different aspects to this question to vex us here in estimates. I do not know if the minister has anything to add. I think you have already answered, but feel free to add anything more—or not—if you so desire.

Mr FURNER: I am not going to pre-empt any outcome of a national body that deals with a program such as this, because it is not solely up to Queensland in terms of what is delivered on a program of phasing out these particular cages. It is a matter where we will continually involve the industry and consult with them. I am quite prepared to engage with the member at a time when we are in a position to deliver that engagement. I acknowledge your interest in this. I give you an undertaking to engage with you down the track when we are closer to an outcome.

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