Page 452 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 16 February 2005

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Given such a high unmet need in housing there is a definite role for the private sector to deliver social outcomes. Industry has reported that it needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis, and this legislation has the flexibility to negotiate outcomes for each development. The Greens have always questioned the wisdom of the trickle-down effect, that rather fallacious notion that a thriving economy will produce environmental and social outcomes. It simply has not worked yet—here or anywhere else. This legislation is a practical step to address the lack of affordable housing in the ACT, something that no government has yet addressed in a holistic way. I repeat that the Greens are keen to work with others members to achieve a better outcome for those in housing need.

Debate (on motion by Ms Gallagher) adjourned to the next sitting.

Animal Legislation (Penalties) Amendment Bill 2005

Mr Stefaniak, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (10.45): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

All right-minded people would abhor cruelty to animals, especially animals that cannot look after themselves. They cannot talk, and many animals are totally dependent on human beings. They deserve the maximum possible protection from harm. This bill is identical but for a couple of respects to a bill I produced last year. Those couple of respects were errors that were passed relating to people convicted of cruelty to animals and who could or would be sent by the courts to receive some psychiatric assessment—which I think is a very positive step. None of the penalty provisions in the bill were accepted by the Assembly last year, so I have brought those back. I will come to them in a moment.

I have worked with the RSPCA on this bill, as I did with the bill last year. It has had concerns for many years about the need for more realistic penalties for cruelty to animals. Indeed, over the past couple of days, Mr Simon Tadd from the RSPCA has been saying that on air. The penalties have not changed for many years, and as well as the RSPCA, many people in our community are keen to see them increased. Over the years—and I am probably going back a couple of decades here—magistrates have often bemoaned the fact that the maximum penalty available for cruelty to animals is only 12-months imprisonment. There has been only one instance in Canberra of a person being jailed for horrendous cruelty to animals. That person had very significant convictions for other offences, including assaults on humans, and quite likely would have been jailed regardless of what he came back to court for.

As I said earlier, on occasions magistrates have commented that the range of penalties available to them is too low and too narrow. The current maximum penalty for cruelty to animals under a number of sections of the act is one year imprisonment or a fine. Imprisonment for one year is basically half of what is available to a court for a common

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