Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 8 Hansard (4 August) . . Page.. 3461..
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill agreed to in principle.
Clauses 1 to 3, by leave, taken together and agreed to.
MS TUCKER (5.19): I will be opposing this clause.
MR STEFANIAK (5.19): I will just say something very briefly on this clause and my comments can be included for the rest of the clauses so that we do not waste too much time. Cruelty is really the crux of this bill-cruelty to defenceless, helpless animals.
MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! There is too much conversation. Mr Stefaniak has the floor.
MR STEFANIAK: It basically encapsulates it all. It includes wanton cruelty that leads to the death of animals. This clause encompasses the serious types of offences, including murdering defenceless animals in a cruel way. So, of any clause, this one should have an increase in penalty. Of course, the other clauses stipulated here are ones where the maximum penalty in the current legislation was one year's imprisonment, so, similarly, they are very serious offences. But the cruelty one encapsulates it all, that is, effectively, cruelty when you actually kill animals. I just want to make that point. That is how serious this is. It is a shame that, whilst Ms Tucker has voted for this in principle, she just refuses to accept this clause and the clauses that flow from it.
Mr Stanhope mentioned that we are fourth in something and third somewhere else. I know a number of states have lifted their game. In Queensland, for example, some offences carry seven years. For the offence in this clause, in Queensland it is five years and $75,000, according to information I have from the RSPCA. So I do not think the ACT has anything to be proud of in this area.
MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Community Affairs) (5.21): The government will oppose this clause.
MS DUNDAS (5.21): I am disappointed the government did not take the opportunity to articulate further why it is opposing this clause. There has been some interesting debate in the in-principle stage about the difference between trying to work to stop a crime being committed, working with those who are committing offences and just straight out penalties. Ms Tucker put forward some very interesting points about the problems with accepting that a raised penalty will fix an ongoing problem. That point is very well made, and we need to further assess what we are trying to do by just upping penalties. That is why I will move an amendment later.
Just upping penalties from $100 to $500 or one year to five years will not fix this problem of animal cruelty. Mr Stefaniak has put forward arguments that there have not