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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 14 August 2018) . . Page.. 2891 ..

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (5.04): The budget we are talking about today is lacking in actual substance. In the TCCS area there are small amounts of money to many areas. I see this as generally replacing money that has been eroded from the TCCS budget over many years.

Some of the things we will see that are new include citizen forums. This is so that the minister can blame decisions on someone else and does not need to take responsibility for actions and new things that take place. We also see here long, drawn-out investigations. We saw from the minister during the estimates process a refusal to answer questions about a dog issue; yet a couple of hours later she provided additional information to the media, even though she was willing to avoid scrutiny by the Assembly’s estimates committee.

It appears to me that here we have a minister in charge of city services who has no passion for this area. There is no commitment for this area, no vision for this area and, indeed, it seems she has no time for this area because she has too many other bright, shiny things to look after that give her a better photo opportunity than looking after basic local services.

Let me start by talking about dogs, something that this Assembly has faced over and over in the past few years. We are seeing increasingly the concern in the community in relation to dog attacks. The RSPCA has said that—and I can agree—there are no bad dogs; there are only irresponsible dog owners. It is something that as a community we have to face. But the government also has a role to play in managing dangerous dogs and in better managing dangerous dogs.

This community is not feeling safe—not feeling safe to walk their own streets with or without their own dog on a leash. They are not feeling safe for their dogs in their own backyard or their cats in their own garage because of problems with roaming dogs, many of whom we hear have been previously reported to the correct authorities and yet have been released back into the community.

It seems as though this minister would prefer to see more dog attacks than admit that she was wrong about the need for stronger legislation in this area. Just yesterday we had a justice of the Supreme Court hand down a judgement that was scathing of the government’s lack of action. I do not think I have ever seen such strong statements regarding the need for legislative reform in this area.

Also yesterday, the same day as we saw these scathing comments about dog legislation, we saw another beloved family pet dog mauled to death in Tuggeranong—I have seen the photos—a fluffy white dog killed by three roaming dogs. When will enough be enough? It is a serious matter and it is about public safety. We deserve to be safe on our own streets. We have heard in the past few months about Biscuit, who was mauled while being walked by his owners. We have heard about Jack. Yesterday it was Spuz who was killed.

We have also heard from the government’s figures that in last year’s data 11 per cent of urgent calls about dog attacks were abandoned—urgent calls about dog and cat

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