Page 2149 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 22 June 2005

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to within an inch of its life is sure to get off more lightly than a person who pushes someone in a pub.

“This situation is clearly disproportionate. Issues that our society view as serious should be reflected in the criminal law.”

Jon Stanhope previously has not supported increased penalties. He has said that no animal cruelty charge should exceed the penalty of a base level assault charge on a person. In doing this he is comparing common assault (i.e. someone touching someone without consent) to serious animal abuse.

Historically animals were viewed by the court as property, and animal abuse carried the same penalty as damage to property. However, for some time society has recognised that animals are not just property and the law now needs to catch up.

“If the ACT Government does not increase animal abuse penalties what message will this send to the community and to magistrates who repeatedly give lenient sentences to animal abusers?

“The strong link between violence to animals and violence to humans is now widely recognised. One step in addressing this problem is to give animal abuse crimes stronger penalties so they are viewed as serious crimes. Only then will resources be made available to stop this cycle of violence that is inflicted on animals and humans,” concluded Mr O’Shaughnessy.

I would certainly agree with him there. Maybe one point in the magistrates’ favour is that they have been calling for increases to the penalties, as I said, for a number of years. I seek leave to table that document.

Leave granted.

MR STEFANIAK: I present the following paper:

Media release from Animal Liberation ACT, 22 June 2005.

I understand that when the RSPCA sent that letter to members our learned Chief Minister was absolutely ropeable and savaged them. I do not think that that is a particularly good way to carry on in government. Clearly, members of the public and members of such organisations which were quoted today by Ms Gallagher and Dr Foskey, people who deal directly with the results of cruelty to animals, should have their views taken on board. Members of this place should take note of the views of organisations such as the RSPCA and Animal Liberation. The RSPCA have shelters here and do such a wonderful job in assisting animals which have been victims of cruelty. They are at the coalface. They work at it every day of the week.

If they say that the penalties are inadequate, they are making it very hard for the people opposite to resort to convoluted logic to justify not supporting a bill such as this one. I find their response very disappointing. Shame on them for that! I do commend the bill to you. I know that it is going to be defeated, but I think that members opposite should ponder what experts in the field such as the RSPCA and Animal Liberation have said. They would like to see the penalties increased. New South Wales has done so. Queensland has done so. They are both Labor states. Why can’t the people opposite?

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