Page 4322 - Week 13 - Thursday, 17 November 2005

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I had to talk to the kids today about it and then I had to tell them what we are finishing with: the Domestic Animals (Cat Containment) Amendment Bill, about the microchipping of cats.

If this is the best that the government is able to offer, that is extremely disappointing. As I said at the beginning, they have got the support of the Greens, so that is more power to them. But I do think that this kind of legislation is unnecessary, it is unhelpful and it really does not add much; it is undue intrusion. I think of some other similar areas and it goes to enforceability. We have got all sorts of legislation against dangerous dogs and other things, which is good. The reason for that is to protect the community, so I support laws such as those. But there is no enforcement; anyone who has recently tried to call the pound when they have had a big dog roaming around their neighbourhood will have found out how far you get. There just are not the resources to enforce these kinds of things.

That brings me to the point about this cat containment legislation: how many cat police are we going to hire? That is the question: how many cat police, Mr Hargreaves? With Forde and Bonner, and, of course, the nature parks, that is a reasonable area. He talks about a policeman at every letterbox. There will have to be a cat policeman in every street, constantly patrolling for these menacing animals. The more I think about the enforceability of this legislation, the more it displays to me that this legislation really is just a bit of a sop to people. I am sure that there will still be cats roaming in those areas.

I am sure that the cat police will not actually be formed and I am sure that most of these vagrant, delinquent cats will not be brought to justice. I expect that they will never be brought to justice, and so you ask: why put in place a piece of legislation that will never actually be enforced? Things will just go on as before, except that law-abiding citizens will have to build all sorts of cat enclosures to stop their cats getting out. That is my concern with legislation like this that creates an undue burden on people. Many older Canberrans seek a lot of companionship from their cat. This will affect low-income earners who do not necessarily want to keep the cat inside their house all day but perhaps do not have the resources to build a large cat enclosure.

I return to the main point here, that this is part of the agenda of a government that has got its priorities completely wrong. It is completely skewed. It focuses on things that people really do not care about, and I think that it is time that it started focusing on things that people do care about—on fixing our health system, on providing decent road infrastructure, on providing sufficient numbers of police and on fixing our education system. Then people might start to take this place much more seriously. I suggest to the minister that he not be driven necessarily by elements of the green lobby in preparing legislation; that he thinks through whether it is a good idea or a bad idea; and that, when it is a bad idea, when it is a stupid piece of legislation, he reject it for what it is.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (4.05): Mr Speaker, I will be brief in relation to this matter. I share the concerns that Mr Seselja has so eloquently outlined and that Mr Pratt explained earlier. When this bill was introduced, I hastily looked at the calendar to see if it was 1 April, because I honestly could not believe this bill to be of the level of importance in legislative reform that we should remember of the Stanhope government when it is voted out of office at the end of the current term. This bill will go down as one of its more remarkable efforts in terms of legislative control in the territory.

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