Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (14 November) . . Page.. 3684 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
their power to disrupt the lives of private individuals. Removal of the need for a warrant is not something that should be done lightly.
In this case, however, the seizure of the animal can occur only after its owner has been charged with a nuisance offence, so there must already be sufficient evidence available about the animal to justify the seizure. I also understand that the charging of the person is also subject to the DPP, who is independent of government, agreeing that there is sufficient evidence.
The current requirement to obtain a warrant is therefore regarded by the government as a superfluous step in the process of seizing an animal. It is also the case that inspectors can already seize dogs without a warrant or before any charge is laid in a number of other circumstances, although these tend to be more urgent situations, such as where a dog has attacked or harassed someone or potentially could do so.
I could imagine a need for urgency in dealing with a nuisance dog. An animal nuisance is defined as:
(a) damage to property owned by a person other than the keeper; or
(b) excessive disturbance to a person other than the keeper because of noise; or
(c) danger to the health of an animal or a person other than the keeper.
These are serious situations, so I do not believe that dogs would be seized without good cause. On balance, I am prepared to let this amendment pass, but I hope that the minister keeps an eye on the use of this provision to make sure that dogs are not seized unreasonably.
MR WOOD (Minister for Urban Services, Minister for the Arts and Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services) (4.59), in reply: Mr Speaker, I thank members for their contributions. Even if they are not supporting the bill, I appreciate their remarks.
At 5.00 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.
MR WOOD: It has been a short debate, but I think relevant points have been made. I appreciate that. The issue of warrants is a particularly important one. We do not move in that area lightly. Ms Tucker made the comment that we need to balance the rights of pet owners and the rights of others. I think overwhelmingly we would agree that pets-cats, dogs and whatever else-are a very important part of our community, and we must always keep uppermost in mind that people are very attached to their pets. Sometimes they do not look after them as well as they might.
Mr Cornwell and other speakers raised the issue of warrants. It is a significant measure to take, but Ms Tucker and Mr Cornwell spelled out all the circumstances required before it comes to issuing a warrant. Under the current measures in the act, a warrant is very much a last step, and probably not a necessary one, considering that significant