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Roy Butler voices support for crucial Virtual Stock Fencing Bill

Western Plains App

Luke Williams

01 April 2024, 8:20 PM

Roy Butler voices support for crucial Virtual Stock Fencing Bill A collar enables virtual fencing of livestock but legislation also needs to change. IMAGE: CSIRO

Member for Barwon Roy Butler has voted for the removal of current animal welfare legislation restrictions in NSW to allow the use of virtual fencing.  

Virtual fencing is a system that enables livestock to be confined or moved without using fixed fences. 

Virtual fencing technology uses neckbands with coordinates, wireless technologies and sensors to control the location of livestock without the need for an actual fence.  

Member for Orange, Philip Donato, presented the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Virtual Stock Fencing) Bill 2023 to parliament to allow for virtual fencing currently used in Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania to be used in NSW.   

“Virtual fencing is high-tech ag technology that assists in autonomous animal control, helping to reduce farmers' costs on internal fencing while facilitating rotational grazing principles, improving animal performance, and aiding in stopping stock theft. It can also assist with detecting if animals are sick or when they are cycling and is a potential huge game changer for our farmers," Mr Donato said.  

The bill would mean virtual stock fencing is specifically excluded from the Act’s prohibition of certain devices. 

IMAGE: NSW Farmers

During the bill’s second reading, Mr Butler said he would “enthusiastically support this bill”.  

He told parliament that virtual fencing would result it in less overgrazing, less stock-theft, better weed control, soil degradation, improved labour efficiencies and reduced capital investment in fencing.  

“It should be no surprise that properties in my electorate can be big properties - 20-30,000 acres, and it can cost millions of dollars to fence that land” he said. “Virtual fencing reduces cost and reduces cost of insurance premiums and damage during natural disaster.  

“Also skippy can jump through freely without getting entangled”. 

Mr Butler said animals learned that the beeping sound is a warning and if they get too close they “Get a tickle down the neck”.  

“Virtual fencing is a no-brainer for the house…that will our farmers to compete on a global scale”.  

After a vote in NSW Parliament last week the matter has been referred to the lower house's Investment, Industry and Regional Development committee that will return with a report in October.