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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 11 February 2010) . . Page.. 300 ..


suffers damage caused by a dog. At the moment, the compensation depends on the dog owners providing their details—some do not—and it means victims miss out on appropriate compensation.

These amendments will mean that, if people suffer injury or damage by a dog and the keeper of the dog refuses to give information, recourse can be had to information held by Domestic Animal Services. This includes information obtained by officers and inquiries and details held on the domestic animals register. This will mean that those seeking compensation are able to get the information to achieve it. This should further encourage responsible pet ownership.

Current recourse is via freedom of information. These requests are usually refused and they can be quite time consuming. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner and the ACT Law Society have been consulted on the new provisions and I understand the amendments are acceptable to those authorities.

Secondly, this bill will relax the requirement that officers’ name tags are on display and identifiable. Officers’ tags will no longer be required to display their names. This will make it harder for those who wish to harass officials later if they so choose. A unique number will be given to each officer and, should there be a court case, they will have to reveal their name.

The bill also provides that “authorised officers” will be replaced by “authorised persons”, in line with the current drafting practice. The Canberra Liberals believe these new requirements are reasonable and will support the Canberra community and, as such, we will be supporting the bill.

MS LE COUTEUR (Molonglo) (11.49): The Greens will be supporting the Domestic Animals Amendment Bill. The bill makes two changes that will assist the Domestic Animals Registrar and his officers to do their work effectively and safely. The Domestic Animals Registrar does an important and difficult job and the registrar works in some challenging areas. These include managing animal nuisance complaints and the seizure of dangerous animals.

Naturally, these tasks sometimes give rise to situations of conflict. Dog owners can become very distressed about decisions made about their animals. Unfortunately, sometimes owners can also become hostile or threatening. I met last week with the registrar and discussed some of the situations that have arisen. Animal owners have reportedly harassed or assaulted officers. The new bill therefore takes a step to help mitigate this problem. It allows officers to remain anonymous while dealing with the public, by using a numerical identifier instead of a name badge. This seems a sensible step which will help prevent personal harassment of officers who may be pursued by disgruntled pet owners. I believe the situation is just the same with parking inspectors, who may also undertake a duty that may attract harassment.

There is, of course, an entrenched legal principle that you should know the identity of your accuser, as well as the crime you are being accused of. In fact this is a legal principle that goes right back, I believe, to the Magna Carta. However, the amendments proposed in this bill do not offend that legal principle. Domestic animals


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