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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 March 2010) . . Page.. 1219 ..

Mandatory codes also will apply to interstate researchers authorised to operate in the ACT. The bill also allows compliance with a code as a defence in cases of alleged animal cruelty in relation to a range of activities. These include the use of spurs, the involvement of animals in competitions, rodeos and game parks, and in medical and surgical procedures. Before the minister can declare a code to be mandatory, he or she must be satisfied that all adequate processes of public consultation have been undertaken. Instead of codes being included in the regulations, they simply will be formalised via disallowable instrument.

I considered whether this was the right approach and considered an amendment to restore the current process. However, I am willing to give the proposed process a go as it provides a good deal of flexibility that the existing process does not. Nevertheless, I will be monitoring this.

In developing the mandatory codes, the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee will have statutory authority to participate. It already has that authority for non-mandatory codes. All of this potentially means additional enforcement costs for the territory. I note that the explanatory statement acknowledges this and I would be interested in hearing from the minister as to the impact on the territory budget that these changes might have. Nonetheless, we accept that it is necessary to ensure the safety and welfare of animals in our care.

In his presentation speech, the minister commented:

The government will, before this bill is debated, be introducing new regulations to impose mandatory standards for the welfare of poultry.

The minister has just tabled those. These regulations were notified on the legislation register on 17 March. They will commence on the minister’s written notice, or after six months. This is sensible because it gives time to commercial egg producers to make the necessary adjustments in order to comply with the new regulations. But now is not the time to debate these regulations. It is sufficient to note that they have been introduced. For now, let me note simply that the new regulations—and they are considerable in both number and extent—are mandatory. They carry strict liability offences, and this brings me to the concerns that I have earlier mentioned about this bill.

I am concerned that the ACT is already is accelerating the development of its mandatory standards, demonstrated by these new regulations. Even the process itself is flawed in the event that this bill passes today for, if it does, a regulation would not be required. The code could be introduced by disallowable instrument instead. Further, even the strict liability penalties will be inconsistent with the provisions of the bill. The bill carries penalties of 50 penalty units, but these regulations carry penalties of only 10 penalty units. In this, the ACT government is the hare, not the tortoise.

Further, these regulations were put in place in isolation of the work of the national mandatory codes being developed on behalf of the Primary Industries Ministerial Council. The explanatory statement for the poultry regulation underscores this. It notes that the new regulation is “based on aspects” of the national code. It is only

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