Page 2510 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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Mulligan’s Flat and Goorooyarroo nature reserves, and to protect four native bird species listed as vulnerable under the ACT’s threatened species legislation from cat predation.

The existing act provides for declaration of a cat curfew area to achieve its objective, and the Chief Minister announced the government’s intention to do so to the Assembly on 14 May 2004. Bill Wood notified the Domestic Animals (Cat Curfew Area) Declaration 2004 No 1, which includes Forde, Bonner, Mulligan’s Flat and the Goorooyarroo nature reserves in the cat curfew area, in September 2004. This disallowable instrument took effect on 18 February 2005. No other cat curfew area has been declared in the territory.

These amendments signal the government’s commitment to promoting responsible cat ownership and usher in a new era of cat management policy and practice throughout the territory. Effective identification of domestic cats is the key to effective cat management. Cat registration is not being proposed.

The bill amends the act and the regulation in five main ways. I refer firstly to cat containment in the curfew area. For keepers of cats living in the cat curfew area it will be compulsory for cats to be identified by microchip. This will take effect as soon as the bill becomes law, well in advance of the planned residential development in Forde and Bonner. Cats in the cat curfew area must be confined to a keeper’s premises at all times. “Premises” means within a building, a purpose-built cat cage or a vehicle. The keeper or carers will be committing an offence if they allow their cats to roam free in the cat curfew area without reasonable excuse. On-the-spot fines will allow rangers to quickly deal with stray cats seized in the cat curfew area whose owners can be identified.

Secondly, for cat identification outside the cat curfew area, these amendments will introduce compulsory microchipping for all cats over a three-year period. Currently, outside the cat curfew area all cats must be identified by either collar and tag or microchip. From commencement of the act it will be compulsory for all cats over 12 weeks of age to be implanted with a microchip at point of sale. Therefore, except for cats that are microchipped or cats sold after the act commences, identification must be by collar and tag until 30 June 2008, after which it will be compulsory for all cats in the ACT to be identified by microchip. This will bring the ACT’s cat identification laws into line with those of New South Wales. Microchipping is permanent, avoids cats becoming accidentally hanged or trapped by their collars in trees or vegetation, and allows lost cats to be quickly reunited with their owners. The unique number recorded on an embedded microchip can be easily read by a trained operator using a hand-held microchip reader.

A person will be committing an offence if they keep or sell a cat that is not properly identified as required by the regulation. Cats are identified by storing their ownership details against the unique number on Australia-wide computer databases accessible by the retail cat industry, vets, authorised officers and rangers. These details include the keeper’s name, address and telephone number. Amendments to the regulation specify that microchips are to be implanted only by authorised people and the procedures to be followed and they provide for approval or withdrawal of authorisation and review of decisions by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Thirdly, rangers will need the power to seize cats found roaming free in the cat curfew area or if they have reason to believe cats are being kept without proper identification. These cat seizure provisions are similar to those already in place for dogs under the act.

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