In Agriculture

Northern Territory Shadow Minister for Local Government Willem Westra van Holthe

Dodging Scrutiny

Victor P Taffa

The Labor Party has again tried to dodge scrutiny on the starvation deaths of hundreds of cattle at Mataranka Station.

Labor MLAs Marion Scrymgour and Lynne Walker joined forces in an attempt to shut down questions about the Government’s appalling response to the animal deaths.


“Not only did the Government fail to prosecute anybody for the appalling starvation of livestock at Mataranka Station, it also wants to knobble any discussion on the tragedy.” Shadow Minister for Local Government, Willem Westra van Holthe said today.

“Ms. Scrymgour said Country Liberals members should not be able to question Local Government Minister, Malarndirri McCarthy, about the animal deaths because there is an investigation pending by the Council of Territory Co-operation.”

“Estimates Committee acting chairwoman Lynne Walker agreed.” Mr. Westra van Holthe said.

“The matter was referred to the Public Accounts Committee and after some discussion, the matter was allowed to continue but it shows the lengths the Government is prepared to go to avoid scrutiny on animal cruelty.”

“I can understand the Government’s embarrassment, but not the heavy-handed efforts to silence the Opposition.”

Mr. Westra van Holthe said a senior Government vet advised in September 2009 that staff at Charles Darwin University be held accountable.

“This was within weeks of the animals being identified as starving.” Mr. Westra van Holthe said.

“In June 2010, the Deputy Ombudsman demanded action be taken.”

“In August 2010, with a month left before the expiry of the Statute of Limitations for Prosecution, it appears the Minister may have ignored calls to properly resource the investigation.”

“The Government can’t pretend to be remorseful about the deaths of the Mataranka cattle yet try to avoid cross-examination during Estimates.” Mr. Westra van Holthe said.


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