The usual monthly meeting of the Inverell Pastures Protection Board was held on Saturday. Among the matters discussed was that if tick infestation, a mob of infested cattle having passed through Inverell and gone on to Cangai, where the tick was noticed.
The question of rabbit destruction came up, and exception was taken to the high wages paid to certain permanent men. Finally, it was decided to call for applications from men willing to take on the work of rabbit destruction.
The blowfly menace was further discussed, and a new kind of fly-trap examined. Director Bucknell said he had come to the conclusion that fly-traps were no good.
The difficulty of overdue rakes was again considered, it being remarked that a number of persons had not taken any notice of peremptory notices, even to the extent of calling on the secretary and discussing the position. It was resolved to summons such persons forthwith.
There were present: Directors John Swan (in the chair), G. W. Browning, H. W. R. Hughes, N. G. Bucknell, Wm. Tonkin, and W. Willmott ; the secretary (Mr. R. J. Higgins) and the stock inspector (Mr. C. M. E. White).
The secretary, Institute of Inspectors of Stock, notified that the annual conference would be held in Sydney on March 15, and an invitation was extended to any member of the Board to attend. It was asked, also, that the stock inspector be granted facilities to attend.
The stock inspector said the conference would not take place, as a circular had been sent that no leave would be granted, as the Department was anxious about tick infestation and wished the inspectors to be on duty to attend to any outbreak.
Dir. Bucknell quoted a station-owner in Queensland who, when ticks first broke out, lost 14,000 out of 20,000 cattle. Even now, owners were dipping every six weeks. It was a most awful disease, he said.
The secretary, Stock and Brands Branch, wrote re working large stock used by drovers in their occupations as such, to be allowed the use of T.S.Rs. In the Bill introduced by the last Government, provision was made for this on payment of a fee of not exceeding 2/- per head per month. This provision is being included in the present Bill, but in view of the fact that there are many drovers out of work who are finding it difficult to feed their stock, the Minister has approved of Boards granting permission for drovers to run their horses on reserves under the Board's control, at a similar fee, it being understood that such working large stock are those used by drovers in their occupation.
The Board decided to endorse the Minister's proposal.
Dir. Hughes: If the T.S.Rs. are abolished, there will be more drovers out of employment.
Max Henry, chief veterinary surgeon, wrote in reference to the outbreak of cattle tick at Cangai, owing to which it became necessary to carry out a crush inspection of all cattle on a number of holdings far distant from the tick quarantine areas, as in the period immediately prior to the discovery of ticks there were a number of movements of cattle from the neighbourhood of the infected area. Members of the Board would realise that if there was any danger of tick being present, the sooner it was discovered the better it will be for the industry generally, and that, therefore, everything will be done to facilitate the work of the inspectors. It is hoped that for the sake of the districts concerned, stock owners will not hesitate to report immediately the presence of cattle tick amongst their stock.
Dir. Bucknell said all his cattle were inspected, and all the cattle along the road. It was impossible to inspect everyone's cattle along roads. The inspector had inspected Mr. Anderson's cattle. It was a coastal disease. The ticks may live a short time, but it was too dry in the interior. Stockowners should assist in every way in their power to control the infestation.
Dir. Willmott: We should help them in all ways.
The Secretary: One lot came from King's Plains road.
The Inspector: Two tick inspectors are coming along. He had made arrangements to assist them. They had to put all cattle in a crush and inspect each beast. At a certain stage, ticks were no bigger than a pin's head, but soon got bigger and could easily be seen. He had interviewed most of the cattle owners in the district
Dir. Bucknell: It is more important to the State than to us.
Robt. N. Currie, Waireka, Delungra, asked permission to shepherd 1000 ewes, with 50 per cent. of lambs, at foot, on the T.S.R., between his mail box and the Delungra turn-off, and pay agistment for them. He would put the sheep into his own paddock at night. There is a big growth of grass on the T.S.R., and, in his opinion, the sheep would do it good and would lessen to some extent the danger of fire.
The stock inspector said he heard the place had been leased. He did not thing the application should be granted. Mr. Stratton had made an offer— a better one than Mr. Currie had made.
It was decided to leave the matter to the chairman and the stock inspector.
A letter was read from E. J. Rogers, Myall Creek drawing attention to the route used by Mr. Morse in taking stock to his place. Frequently, mobs of 8000 sheep passed through his horse paddock. He asked that drovers be notified to go by the right route.
The matter was left to the stock inspector to report upon.
The secretary read a letter from his brother (Mr. P. R. Higgins), who is a barrister to Sydney, and who was asked to attend a deputation to the Minister for Agriculture on the question of the abolition of P.P. Boards, as representative of the Inverell Board, as no director could attend. The letter was emphatic in criticising the speeches of members of the delegation. The deputation was an absolute frost, it said; even Tout's speech was water; there was not a strong drink in the lot."
The stock inspector, in the course of a verbal report, said they had been destroying rabbits on Reedy Creek reserve; men had been poisoning and had got 800 rabbits in a week. A lot of timber should be cleared up, but it was not safe to burn now. With a fall of rain, he would have the burrows broken in. There had been two men at Myall Creek, where there were a lot of rabbits. One man had been there lately and had done good work. Skins were Iess than 3d per lb. now. He proposed to keep Alfreds and his sons on for a month or so.
A general discussion took place on rabbits. The fumigator ordered by the Board had arrived; the inspector said he proposed to use it at certain places. Dir. Tonkin asked about poison, and the secretary said the Board had not yet got permission to sell poison— hence the delay.
The Inspector: Rabbits have been taking poison with thistle root well, and some directors said the roots were hard to get in places.
The inspector suggested that he could get men at £3/18/ a week to destroy rabbits.
Dir. Willmott: You can get lots of men to do it cheaper than that. He suggested that applications be called for men to do the work.
Dir. Hughes: Is the Board bound by an award?
The Secretary: No.
Dir. Bucknell said he bad been paying 5/ per 100, and his man was getting about the same money for the skins.
Directors quoted varying prices which had been paid for skins.
Dir. Willmott moved that applications be called for men at a weekly wage, with the option of retaining the skins.
The inspector said Alfreds was a valuable man. This Board had nothing to complain of; they had no rabbit inspector, and other boards worked fumigators.
Dir. Hughes: There are not many station hands drawing £3/18/.
Dir. Bucknell: Or station owners, either!
Dir. Willmott: There are many men who would jump at the offer.
The Inspector: Who is going to watch them all the time? That is where Alfreds comes in. Rabbits were not worth skinning now.
Dir. Willmott said he knew men that were rabbiting now; one man had asked for meat and strychnine—nothing else.
A resolution on the lines suggested by Dir. Willmott was passed, the finalising to be left in the hands of the stock inspector and secretary.
The stock inspector said there was other work to be done on the reserves, unless the Board was letting it go— such as suckering and destroying briars. His idea was that Alfreds would do that work and put in spare time at rabbit destruction.
Dir. Willmott: Don't make it a sideline—make it a special job.
During the discussion it, was stated that Alfreds and his two sons drew £12 a week. It was agreed that Alfreds was a good man, but it was thought that under present conditions the pay was very high. There were good men all over the country prepared to work at much less than former rates; it was only fair to give such men a chance, as they could be got for £2 a week. The Board was not in a position financially to meet present high wages; many rates were not coming in.
A sample fly-trap was brought under the notice of the Board which it was claimed to be superior to others, the cost of making being 2/9. Most of the directors decided to take a trap and give it a trial.
Dir. Bucknell said he had come to the conclusion that fly-traps were no good; it might do half an acre or so.
The secretary said he had one on Ross Hill, and no neighbours had any flies.
Dir. Tonkin, said he had one at his house, and they had no files.
The financial statement showed that the reserves improvement fund was in credit £579. The general fund had a credit of £64. Rates received during the month amounted to £129, and sundry disbursements, including salaries, amounted to £150.
The usual discussion took place in regard to outstanding rates.
The Chairman: What are we to do with those who take no notice of our letters? A Director: Send them a blue paper! Some people can't pay their rates, but can take a trip to Sydney. They are trading on it now.
Dir. Browning moved that a summons be issued against such men.
Dir. Tonkin seconded the motion, which was carried.