I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Environment and Conservation a question about the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I have been contacted by concerned constituents in relation to the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAS). This committee is substantiated in statute and consists of eight members, made up as follows. One member is nominated by the minister for primary industries, two from the South Australian Farmers Federation, one from the RSPCA, two members representing the interests of animal welfare organisations, one from the Australian Veterinarian Association, and one engaged in research activities. I am advised that this body has not met or, indeed, been constituted since May 2006. My questions are:
1. Why has this body not been meeting, particularly given matters that have been before the parliament?
2. When can we expect the new members to be appointed?
The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Environment and Conservation, Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Minister Assisting the Minister for Health) (14:42): The committee, which is established under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1985, advises me on matters relating to the administration and enforcement of the act with respect to animal welfare issues. As the member has pointed out, the committee consists of eight members, who are appointed by the Governor. Those members are nominated by both government and non-government organisations. The term of the officers did indeed expire in May 2006.
Despite considerable efforts by the Department for Environment and Heritage, it has been extremely difficult to obtain nominations that address gender balance, as well as the skills and experience mix required by the committee to deal with often quite complex and technical matters. This situation has been exacerbated, in turn, by changes to personnel following their nomination, which has necessitated starting some of those nomination processes from the beginning, a matter that has been extremely frustrating for us all. We are working hard to overcome those frustrations, and I look forward to the appointment of the committee within the near future.