Page 4295 - Week 13 - Thursday, 17 November 2005

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significant green dividends, I suppose. The government cannot tackle the difficult targets that I have listed, such as graffiti, unserviceable vehicles and infrastructure decay. It cannot put in place inspectors and check and balance measures to ensure that these standards are up to scratch, but it can waste our time and its time and resources by putting in place a bureaucratic cat control measuring system.

Mr Speaker, what will be the cost of this project from a departmental perspective? Will the ACT disappear if this legislation is not adopted? I doubt it. Will we have major difficulties in the ACT if we do not implement this cat control strategy? I would very much doubt it. At a time when the government is struggling to find sufficient resources to deliver essential services, it is proceeding to waste funds on an unnecessary program such as this. We believe that this bill is an unnecessary imposition on cat owners. We believe that the government has not made a case for either the opposition or the public in general that there is a major cat problem. We believe that the government has now hoisted upon its own shoulders additional costs that it cannot afford to meet to manage this cat program. Therefore, the opposition will not be supporting this bill today.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (12.16): In contrast to Mr Pratt, the Greens welcome this bill, which introduces encouraging moves to protect native fauna in sensitive areas near newly developing suburbs. Given the constant threats to native fauna and flora in the little remaining woodland and grassland in the ACT, the Greens welcome any moves to lower the impacts of domestic cats on our threatened species, such as small birds and legless lizards.

This bill has come about through Environment ACT and ACTPLA working with the Conservation Council of the South-East Region and Canberra, Canberra Ornithologists Group, and Friends of Grasslands. Of course, the RSPCA also has provided input. We believe that these amendments provide a good compromise between the various needs of the community, future Forde and Bonner residents, their cats and native fauna in the Mulligans Flat nature reserve area.

We know that cats play an important role in the lives of many people in Canberra. The RSPCA estimates that around 68 per cent of households own at least one cat—or should I say: are owned by at least one cat? That is around 70,000 domestic cats in Canberra. Cat management, therefore, is no small issue for Canberra and it is imperative that the government continue to work on improving cat management in the ACT whilst balancing the needs of people, domestic cats and native wildlife. It is also important to note that, although the Greens acknowledge the damage that domestic cats cause to native wildlife, cats do make good companions and can be a factor in people’s health, lowering stress and rates of heart attack.

I am sure that members are aware of the many studies, both local and national, that show that free-roaming domestic cats prey on a large range of native fauna and can significantly suppress populations of birds, animals and reptiles, especially impacting on small populations of threatened fauna. Cats generally have been shown to have the greatest impact on native fauna where urban areas adjoin nature reserves or remnant vegetation. It is alarming to note that cats can roam up to five kilometres at night. This is all on top of other impacts on nearby newly cleared areas, such as competition for food sources, human destruction of habitat with roads, walking and riding trails, litter and

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