Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall denies 'knock em down' deer remarks are unacceptable under Estimates questioning

NO VIGILANTE: Adam Marshall boasted he had hit four deer at once.
NO VIGILANTE: Adam Marshall boasted he had hit four deer at once.

Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall hosed down a Labor suggestion he was being deliberately cruel to animals by running over deer near Emmaville under questioning in parliament earlier this week.

The Member for Northern Tablelands was briefly investigated by the RSPCA over the deer-killing incident and a subsequent joke he made about "doing my best" to "knock 'em down four at a time".

But under questioning by Labor MP Daniel Mookhey Mr Marshall told a Budget Estimates committee he wasn't trying to kill them - and only one deer had actually died.

The Labor MLC pressed Mr Marshall on the joke, asking "In what context is it acceptable for a Minister to boast about running down deer?"

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"I was making light of a serious situation because it was in the context of a discussion about the number of deer being in plague proportions," Mr Marshall replied.

"It was in no way an attempt to suggest that I had deliberately run them over. That would be not only ridiculous but also completely inappropriate.

"I was addressing [farmers] who understand exactly what life is like in the bush because that it is what they drive in. Whilst they are unfortunate and are something that people try to avoid, animal strikes are sometimes unavoidable."

MLC Daniel Mookhey.

MLC Daniel Mookhey.

The Labor MP asked Adam Marshall to apologise.

"Do you therefore accept that the Minister responsible for the Act and for managing the deer plague making light of this and boasting about driving over deer in any context creates the appearance that you are simply not up to the job?"

Mr Marshall accused Daniel Mookhey of being out of touch with rural NSW.

"I think this line of questioning highlights the fact that you probably need to do a bit more driving up to Armidale to visit your family."

The Agriculture Minister rejected allegations he was creating the perception it was okay to deliberately run over deer.

"I do not know of anyone who deliberately tries to do that, given the size of the animal and the risk that it poses, not only to their vehicle but also to the individual's safety"

The fracas began after comments about the incident came to light when a video was posted online in which Adam Marshall jokes to the NSW Farmers annual conference in July about killing the animals in his car.

"While I'm doing my best in my car to knock 'em down four at a time like I did the other night near Emmaville ... the fact is, we need to take some pretty drastic measures to bring that population under control," Mr Marshall said.

The MP told the estimates committee he had hit four deer but when he stopped to check he could only find one body and assumed the other three had "scampered away".

Mr Marshall called the investigation "political correctness gone mad".

Deer are officially a pest animal as of Friday September 6 after changes to their status as a game animal pushed by the Minister for Agriculture. The change makes it easier for farmers to get a licence to shoot them.

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