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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 16 August 2018) . . Page.. 3092 ..

Domestic Animals—Services Management and Staff Resources, pursuant to the resolution of the Assembly of 9 May 2018.

I seek leave to make a brief statement.

Leave granted.

MS FITZHARRIS: In recent days, including in the media and in this place, relating to DAS, and particularly legislation relating to dog attacks, the opposition have made a number of assertions. I would like to put on the record again the detail of the legislation that was passed in this Assembly by all members last year, particularly as it relates to the opposition’s claims around preventing dog attacks.

As we know, and as I have said on many occasions, the best outcome is to stop dogs becoming dangerous or attacking in the first place, and to encourage and ensure responsible pet ownership in our community. The opposition bill introduced last year missed exactly this fundamental point.

Their bill, presented last year, did not go far enough in actually dealing with the issues that contribute to dangerous dogs and dog attacks. Under the opposition bill, where a dog accidentally scratched someone or bit its owner’s hand when they both went to grab a tennis ball off the ground, the opposition wanted those dogs destroyed. If a dog killed a lizard or a snake, the opposition bill would have required that dog to be declared dangerous and destroyed. This would not have made our community a safer or better place to live.

The opposition bill did not adequately address the need to improve compliance and enforcement for a range of matters that are internationally recognised as significant contributing factors to dog attacks or dogs becoming dangerous, for example, illegal breeding, desexing, and nuisance and harassing dogs.

The government introduced amendments to the package to make it even stronger, going much further than the opposition bill and based on international best practice for reducing the number of dangerous dogs and dog attacks. This gives us some of the strongest laws in the country.

The amendments included a general public safety consideration in dealing with all dogs that could be dangerous; stronger seizure powers; significantly increased fines and penalties; ownership bans and cancellations for irresponsible owners or owners in breach of the act; much greater restrictions on dangerous dogs and when dangerous dog licences can be issued; increased enforcement powers and an ability to seize and act on nuisance, harassing or dangerous dogs, particularly where they pose a threat to public safety; greater enforcement powers and increased restrictions in relation to desexing and illegal breeding; a self-reporting obligation for owners of dogs involved in serious dog attacks; and better control and enforcement in relation to nuisance dogs which may become dangerous dogs.

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