Page 868 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 6 April 2022

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native wildlife and our domesticated animals. The Greens are happy to support this bill.

MS VASSAROTTI (Kurrajong—Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services and Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction) (4.41): I rise today in support of the Domestic Animals Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 and to talk about some of the reasons why this is important to protect our wildlife, particularly our great bird population. As minister for the environment, I felt really privileged to be able to deliver on the ACT Greens’ commitment to move towards a territory-wide cat containment policy, alongside my colleague Minister Steel, when we launched the cat plan at the RSPCA in May last year. The introduction of this legislation is an important step in continuing to implement this plan.

Much of the discussion to date has centred around the importance of this legislation for cat welfare, as the vision in the cat plan is for all cats in the ACT to be owned, wanted and cared for by responsible owners, and what a fantastic vision that is. While recognising the importance of cats as companion animals, I would also like to focus on the threat that roaming cats pose to biodiversity, much like the comments that were made by Ms Lawder, and how this bill is an important step to ameliorating this damage to our native wildlife.

While we love our family cats, we do know that cats are natural predators that hunt by their own instinctive nature on native birds and animals. We know that this does have a devastating impact on our natural wildlife, which is a valued part of our bush capital. Ms Lawder has actually talked about some of the estimated impacts of roaming cats in Canberra alone.

There is an increasing body of evidence that predation by feral cats is a major threat to biodiversity in Australia. Their presence has contributed to the extinction of 22 Australian mammals, and they are believed to be a current and major threat to at least 142 species of mammals, reptiles, frogs and birds. Predation by feral cats was listed by the commonwealth in 2000 as a key threatening process, with a threat abatement plan for the predation by feral cats released in July 2015.

The commonwealth convened a feral cat task force in mid-2020 and the commonwealth Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy conducted an inquiry into the problem of feral and domestic cats in Australia in July 2020, producing the report Tackling the feral cat pandemic: a plan to save Australian wildlife. Nearby, over the border, predation by feral cats was listed by New South Wales in 2000 as a key threatening process.

This is another example of a wider national problem that we are taking local action to fix. We have a responsibility in our bush capital to ensure that our native animals are protected. The reforms to the cat containment and registration contained within this bill, implementing key elements of the ACT’s cat plan, play an important role in this.

Turning now to a more local scale and the cat management in our suburbs, I would like to focus on strategy 3 of the cat plan, which is to reduce the number of

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