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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Wednesday, 8 December 2010) . . Page.. 5961 ..

people who are not registered breeders or sellers and it can identify and investigate suspicious sellers.

Importantly, the bill also proposes a new system of traceability by the existing cat and dog microchips. This will allow all cats and dogs to be traced back to their original breeders. It will allow, for example, investigators to target a breeder’s premises because they will be able to find out who the breeder is if a large number of animals with the same problems, diseases or genetic defects, for example, come from the same breeder.

In the case of cats or dogs acquired from someone other than an authorised seller—for example, a breeder in another jurisdiction—the owner must record the details of that breeder in the microchip. They will be required to record the breeder’s name and home or business address, the breeder’s ABN, if any, and any details of the breeder’s licence or permit that is registered with another jurisdiction. This requirement is intended to allow record keeping of animals from out of state and will also facilitate cross-jurisdictional reporting. It is likely to discourage bad breeders from other jurisdictions selling to the ACT.

The draft bill changes the existing desexing laws so that all dogs and cats must first be desexed before they may be sold. Undesexed animals are one of the key problems causing overbreeding and abandonment of cats and dogs. This proposal is expected to dramatically reduce the number of undesexed animals and significantly alleviate overbreeding and abandonment problems in the ACT.

The draft bill proposes to increase the available monetary penalties for animal cruelty offences to move the ACT from being the jurisdiction with the lowest available fines to having average fines for an Australian jurisdiction. The Greens believe that the community feels very strongly about animal cruelty offences and that laws routinely undervalue animals. The proposed increases in fines are intended to bring the law more into line with community sentiment and to offer stronger deterrents and options for penalty payments.

Lastly, the bill proposes to outlaw sow stalls and farrowing crates so that only free-range pig farming may occur in the ACT. This will ensure that the ACT allows only humane farming of pigs, if that exists. There are, of course, currently no intensive pig farms in the ACT so the changes will not impact on existing farms but will ensure that intensive pig farming does not start in the ACT in the future. It is also going to contribute towards a national push to end factory farming of animals.

In June 2010 Tasmania became the first jurisdiction in Australia to announce a ban on sow stalls. The Tasmanian government has agreed to implement a phase out of sow stalls with a total ban by 2017. Under my bill, a ban on intensive pig farming would begin straightaway. We would then be the leading jurisdiction and this would make a significant contribution towards a national ban on these methods of farming.

In summary, this bill will improve the welfare of companion animals, in particular by addressing problems of overbreeding and animal abandonment. It will help prevent animal cruelty and ensure that animal cruelty laws recognise the significance of animals as sentient creatures. It will also help to protect farm animals from the most inhumane intensive farming practices.

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