Animal Welfare Investigation- Sheep Deaths in Scientific Trials

Question Without Notice No. 564 asked in the Legislative Council on 18 August 2010 by Hon Lynn Maclaren

Parliament: 38 Session: 1


564. Hon LYNN MacLAREN to the minister representing the Minister for Local Government:

I refer to the investigation by the Department of Local Government’s animal welfare branch into the deaths of 62 sheep in a government scientific trial and claims of a subsequent cover-up by officials.

(1) What was the nature of the scientific trial?

(2) Will the minister please confirm that the deaths occurred due to neglect after the sheep were left in a paddock from spring 2007 through to summer 2008, and are being blamed on a lack of due diligence by management?

(3) Is it true that the sheep perished due to flystrike and were eaten alive by maggots?

(4) What is the current state of the investigation?

(5) Will the findings of the investigation be made public; if not, why not; and, if so, when?

Hon PETER COLLIER replied:

I thank the honourable member for some notice of this question.

(1) The trial was a farm-based study into the genetics of sheep breeding. The sheep were run under commercial conditions.

(2) It is correct that the incident subject to investigation occurred over that time period but I am unable to confirm that the deaths actually occurred, as the sheep were identified as “missing” in a routine check conducted as part of the trial. The investigation is ongoing and, as such, it is not appropriate to discuss possible findings.

(3) It is not possible to comment on this as the missing sheep were not located.

(4) As explained in answer (2), the investigation is ongoing.

(5) The department does not routinely publish the findings of investigations.