If this State is to be put right, the Department of Agriculture must play the biggest part. This point was made by the Minister for Agriculture, Mr. F. A. Chaffey, in opening the conference of the Institute of Stock inspectors, at which Mr. E. A. Hamilton presided.
Australia was more fortunate than other countries in that many of the species of bot-flies that had a wide distribution, some affecting human beings, were unknown here. While those that attacked horses and sheep were fairly plentiful, the concensus of opinion amongst professional men was that they did not do any particular harm. Many of the fattest sheep killed at the abattoirs were bot-infested. Such were observations by Mr. S. T. D. Symons, Chief Inspector of Stock, in a paper on the subject. In the treatment of horses Mr. Symons referred to the administration of carbon bisulphide in gelatine capsules as the most effective. He did not know of anything that would dislodge bots from the nasal chamber of sheep.
A discussion on rabbit destruction was the chief feature of the day. Mr. W. L. Rees (Inverell) said that the decrease of 30,000,000 in the State's sheep in the past 30 years was attributable to the effects of rabbits on 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 95 rabbit destruction group associations had been formed, embracing practically every holding. These were doing splendid work voluntarily. Still, so numerous were the rabbits that one firm had paid £10,000 in a month for. skins.
Mr. Cotton (Maitland) said group associations on the Paterson and 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 wiping out the pest would be repaid twofold in five years in increased pastures and stock.
Mr. Woollett (Tamworth) said 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.