Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3512 ..
MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for Skills, Minister for Transport and City Services and Special Minister of State) (3.18): I thank Ms Clay for bringing this motion to the Assembly today and I rise to speak briefly on the topic of animal welfare and to support Minister Vassarotti in her capacity as Minister for the Environment, with responsibilities for native animal welfare. I note the advocacy of Wildlife ACT that has brought the community’s attention to the types of harm that netting on fruit trees can cause to birds and animals such as possums and flying foxes, and their advocacy that they have been making to the government, including in other jurisdictions, on the need to take action on this product.
As Minister Vassarotti mentioned, the Victorian government has already taken action on this product. We support the need to also look at whether we can ban the sale and/or use of this product in the ACT, and to make sure that we educate the community on the use of acceptable netting in the ACT that reduces the harm to native animals.
Minister Vassarotti also mentioned that we have previously had discussions in the Assembly on the banning of other products. In 2019 Minister Gentleman, then Minister for the Environment and Heritage, banned the sale of enclosed opera-house-style yabby traps under similar provisions under the Fisheries Act. That is actually quite an involved process. Any ban on the sale of that product triggers the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement, which requires goods that are sold in any Australian or New Zealand jurisdiction should be legally sold in all other jurisdictions, unless an exception is granted. Minister Gentleman at the time had done an extensive amount of work to raise this issue at the national level with other jurisdictions in order to seek their agreement under the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act and framework.
That is the reason why this is not as easy as it seems, and the wilful ignorance of the opposition to claim that this can be done in a heartbeat just ignores the fact that we have this commonwealth piece of legislation in power that actually requires us to engage with the federation when we look at these matters. That is the reason why it takes a period of time to do this, and I have absolute confidence that Minister Vassarotti will advocate on this issue to get it done, as Victoria has. The fact that Victoria has done it, taking a leadership role, I think will probably make it easier for other jurisdictions that follow in its path.
I really appreciate the fact that Ms Clay has moved this motion and has added to it the prioritisation of education over enforcement. Whilst we constantly strive to improve animal welfare outcomes in the territory, there are a number of avid gardeners who may have been using these nets for a number of years, and we need to educate the community on alternatives before we penalise people.
I thank Ms Clay for bringing this motion to the Assembly, and I am very happy to support it.
MS CLAY (Ginninderra) (3.22): It is really good, as an ACT Green, to be able to bring such a positive motion forward in the Assembly. I am really, really happy that