The growing menace of the rabbit pest was discussed at the annual conference of the Institute of Inspectors of Stock of New South Wales at the Sydney School of Arts on Tuesday.
Mr. F. F. Poster (Goulburn) moved that, because the rabbit pest was becoming more dangerous to stockowners, the time was opportune for a survey to be made of the existing machinery of control.
Mr. J. G. Johnson (Albury), seconding the motion, claimed that prosecutions were ineffective. Fines and revenue did not kill the rabbit. He believed in a policy of bringing offenders before the board.
The president, Mr. C. J. Woollett (Lismore) suggested that when it could be shown that the boards were breaking down "on their job," as many were doing, the department, with its wide experience, should be asked to intervene. Many farmers were alarmed at the progress made by the rabbit on the North Coast. Prosecutions were often recommended, but seldom proceeded with.
Mr. F. T. Yeoman (Narandera) said that the inspectors should not be asked to deal with the pest. It had taken definite steps to eradicate the pest on vacant Crown land. He declared that the inspectors should not be asked to accept the responsibility for the eradication of the pest. It was one man's work with a car to do it.
The motion was carried.
Another resolution was carried, inviting the Government to take a more active interest in the problem.
The conference also carried a motion favoring the imposition of heavier fines in sheep stealing cases.
Mr. F. T. Yeoman (Narandera), moving the motion, said that from time to time offenders had been caught, but the fines imposed reduced the proceedings to a farce. Heavier fines would be a deterrent. He quoted a case where a drover was fined £10 for stealing a sheep, but the fine was reduced to £1. "The fine would not pay for the petrol I used in catching him," Mr. Yeoman said. "If the penalty was made £10, it would be a deterrent. A £1 fine is a joke. The courts should go the limit."
Mr. G. J. O'Neill (Condobolin) pointed out that most sheep stealing was done by motor lorries travelling at night.
Mr. A. R. McNiven (Holbrook) said that sheep-stealing cases had become so rampant in the Upper Murray district that a defence association had been formed, and a reward of £100 offered for the detection of offenders.
Dr. I. Clunies Ross, parasitologist to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, in a lecture on "The Fight Against Disease," said that, notwithstanding the extension of new diseases, there was no need for pessimism. The last decade had seen some spectacular scientific successes. Tuberculosis in cattle was being gradually eradicated, district by district. He visualised the time when tubercle free areas would be proclaimed for the first time in the history of the State. Perhaps as striking as any other change which was taking place over the great sheep-raising areas of the tablelands and slopes was the gradual improvement of poor natural pastures by artificial methods with the realisation that they had potentialities for production far beyond anything conceived in the past. The pastoral industry was destined to see a great increase, not only in its sheep population, but in the human population which it maintained.
The conference carried a motion suggesting an amendment to the Pastures Protection Bill to provide that in any prosecution under the Act it should not be necessary to bring proof of the notification, dedication, etc., of any travelling stock reserve, evidence of such reserve being placed under the control of a board to be accepted as proof of its notification, etc.