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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 13 May 2021) . . Page.. 1447 ..

MS ORR (Yerrabi) (11.40): I support the Domestic Animals Legislation Amendment Bill. This is a much-needed bit of legislation which will exclusively serve to benefit the Canberra community, particularly its canine constituents. This is a prime example of commonsense legislation. Minister Steel has worked steadily with the relevant departments and experts over the past couple of years to bring us this outcome, and I am delighted to speak to its passage today.

We know from the 2018 independent review into dog management that experts consider a system of annual registration to be a crucial element of efficient and humane dog management. It is worth noting that this bill will align the ACT with existing best practice across the nation. Mandatory annual registration at no cost to dog owners will be invaluable in, first and foremost, establishing accurate custodianship when an animal is lost. However, annual registration will also see the ACT experience a significant reduction in dog-related injuries.

While the individual can and must play a critical role in harm reduction by being a responsible pet owner and appropriately training, socialising and caring for their dog, it is on us, the government, to provide the best possible policy to make dog ownership and these individual requirements accessible only to those who are 100 per cent committed to the responsibility of dog ownership. These amendments do an outstanding job of striking that balance.

For instance, annual registration will be free and therefore will not introduce a fiscal burden on dog owners. By its finite nature it ensures that only responsible owners will retain registration, as keeping up to date on your dog’s reoccurring dates such as vaccinations is already rightly non-negotiable, and responsible owners should not struggle to implement this simple administrative step into their lifestyle.

We also know that when a change of address or phone number occurs, or when the dog’s ownership has transferred to someone else, this data rarely makes it to the authorities. A system of annual registration will eliminate this problem through its proactive approach to compliance. Perhaps most compelling, however, is the fact that a system of annual registration will greatly assist Domestic Animal Services rangers in implementing compliance and enforcement measures in the context of this act and the ACT’s existing animal welfare regulations, as better data will generate more accurate and early identification of irresponsible dog owners. Specifically, a more accurate database of dogs and their owners in the ACT will be an invaluable resource to both government and dog owners.

At the Domestic Animal Services end, this more up-to-date database will allow for increased efficiency in the direction of resources and services. From the perspective of dog owners, it will provide a point of reference for their animals’ records and for further guidance and education on their animals’ health and wellbeing. From the perspective of the broader Canberra community, this amendment will contribute to an overall safer environment for individuals, animals and families. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for Skills, Minister for Transport and City Services and Special Minister of State) (11.43): I am pleased to close the debate on

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