Page 831 - Week 03 - Thursday, 30 March 2006

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In order to ensure that no question of political partiality or influence can arise in relation to the appointment of members to the commission, the bill includes a provision making people ineligible for appointment if they have been members of an Australian parliament in the past five years or in that time have been members of a political party of any sort. That provision is based on similar provisions in the Tasmanian Electoral Act. It will help to assure the community that the commission is independent of political influence. As a result of these amendments, appointments will be able to be made from a broader cross-section of the community without compromising the current high esteem in which the commission is held.

Our community has been well served by the hard-working, independent members who currently make up the commission. These amendments will ensure that other experienced, independent people will be able to follow in their footsteps and continue their good work.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak) adjourned to the next sitting.

Animal Welfare Amendment Bill 2006

Mr Stanhope, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs, and Acting Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Business, Minister for Tourism, Minister for Sport and Recreation, and Minister for Racing and Gaming) (11.01): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I bring to the Assembly today a bill regulating the reckless conduct of a person who causes serious harm or death to an animal. The bill proposes to make an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act by inserting an offence provision where a person’s reckless conduct causes serious harm or death to an animal and by making provision for 200 penalty units and/or two years imprisonment. This proposed amendment to the Animal Welfare Act will act as a guide for magistrates in sentencing offenders.

Currently the ACT imposes the fourth highest monetary maximum penalty within Australia and the third highest jail term for animal welfare offences such as committing an act of cruelty and deliberately causing an animal unnecessary pain. These penalties are comparable with those of other jurisdictions. The bill will also address the concerns of the RSPCA and Animal Welfare Advisory Committee by recognising and distinguishing reckless and negligent conduct that causes serious harm or death to an animal as a serious offence. Conviction for an offence under this provision would demonstrate a more overt recognition of its seriousness and would be an effective mechanism for addressing acts of cruelty. The bill represents a more comprehensive and

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