The annual conference of the Institute of Stock Inspectors of New South Wales was opened by the Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Chaffey) in Sydney on Tuesday last. Mr. E. A. Hamilton, inspector of stock, Moss Vale, occupied the chair.
The morning session was occupied chiefly with a number of technical addresses. In the afternoon, the discussion centred upon the destruction of rabbits.
Mr. W. L. Rees (Inverell) said that the decrease in the number of sheep in New South Wales by about thirty millions during the past thirty years, was attributable to the effects of rabbits upon the pastures. The loss from rabbits far exceeded that caused by all other pests, and cost the State millions annually. The Government should spend a few hundreds a year on research work, and do more to assist landholders with wire-netting. In the Inverell district ninety-five rabbit destruction group associations had been formed, and included practically every holding. These were doing excellent work voluntarily. But so numerous were the rabbits that one firm had paid £10,000 in a month for skins.
Mr. Cotton (Maitland) said that group associations on the Paterson and the Alwyn Rivers were doing good work. Destruction was work for the landholders, and compulsion by inspectors was unworkable.
Mr. Fielder (Armidale), also an advocate of group associations, contended that an expenditure of £10,000,000 in completely destroying the pest would be repaid twofold to five years in increased pastures and stock.
Mr. Woollett (Tamworth) said that the commercial value of the rabbit was the greatest incentive to destruction. His board had done good work by poisoning with carts at the landholders' expense.
Mr. W. J. Smith (Young) argued that netting, digging-out and destruction of harbor, combined with the prosecution of defaulters, was the only solution. The rabbit must be treated as a pest, and not as a trade asset.
It was eventually decided to recommend to the department that an increase be made in the sum set apart on the estimates for the supply of rabbit-proof netting to all applicants that desired to erect it and that were in a position to give reasonable security.
It was also decided that it be a recommendation to the department that Pastures Protection Boards be given power to lease travelling stock runs at their discretion without reference to the Minister, and that the boards be allowed to spend moneys from the reserves improvement fund to do work necessary in the interests of travelling stock on roads or routes ordinarily used by stock, but which were not under the control of the P.P. Boards.
The following officers were elected:— President, E. A. Hamilton ; vice-presidents, R. W. Dawson and C. J. Woollett ; treasurer, E. A. Hamilton ; council, H. Copeland, E. A. Lucas, W. L. Lees, W. J. Smith, F. Hildred, E. Reuss, F. Madden, J. Kenny, H. M. Warburton, and C. L. Fielder.