Page 4326 - Week 13 - Thursday, 17 November 2005

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are going to be CAT scanned as well? And then there are the great prudential judgments that officers of the department will have to make about whether it is in the interests of public safety that seized cats be returned to their owners.

The point has been made and I can labour it. I think I have gone through all of the issues: no, I have not; I will labour it a bit longer. What we have here today is a whole lot of new rules that are unnecessary. There are better ways of addressing this issue. Dare I say that there is more than one way to skin a cat? This is one of a catalogue of errors that this government has gone through. This is probably the worst error that this government has made. It has created a nightmare of legislation, of bureaucratic imposition on people’s lives, when there are simpler, neater, better solutions that it was not prepared to embrace.

The current environment minister was not prepared to embrace in the previous Assembly something that was simple, clean and neat. No, this is the Labor Party and we have to have a whole catechism of rules about what you can do with your cats if you live in a sensitive area, rather than saying, “Here is a sensitive area. We should protect the native birds adjacent to these areas by banning the cats”.

MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella—Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (4.19), in reply: I rise to close the debate and to put an end to the frivolity. We have all had a good giggle and we have all had a good laugh, but the people living adjacent to the Mulligans Flat and Goorooyarroo nature reserves are not particularly chortling. What is in that nature area which is not on, say, Fadden hills, Wanniassa hills and Mount Ainslie? What exactly is in there that requires this extra measure? Shingleback lizards, which are rare. There are echidnas there, eight different frog species, 11 different mammal species and 14 other reptile species. The Mulligans Flat area was not designated as a sensitive nature reserve just on a whim. It was done to preserve that wildlife.

We know that cats unrestrained will go for a wander and that some of them turn feral. We know how destructive they can become when they do become feral. We have legislation covering what happens when dogs turn feral. We should have legislation to make sure that cats do not, where we can. This piece of legislation is actually in two bites. One bite is about trying sensibly to protect against residents of suburbs of Forde and Bonner releasing their cats into that nature reserve. People will know in advance and it will be signposted that this is a cat containment area. I have two cats at my place and no dogs and I support this piece of legislation because I would be devastated if my little blokes actually went across the roads to Mulligans Flat and contributed to the decimation of rare and endangered species of mammals, lizards and birds. I do not think I could stomach that.

I could entertain the house for another 15 or 20 minutes on cat jokes, puerile attacks on cats, but I am not going to do so. At the same time as we have this bit of legislation covering Mulligans Flat and the Forde and Bonner areas of Gungahlin, we are talking about some preventative measures. We are talking about having all cats in this town microchipped by June 2008. That has two advantages: it identifies and it reunites lost cats with their owners. It also means that by that date we will have every cat in this town desexed, unless people have a license for the breeding thereof.

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