Page 1199 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 24 March 2009

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MS LE COUTEUR: My question is to the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services and concerns the desexing of cats. Given that the RSPCA has recently noted the increasing numbers of kittens arriving at its facilities, how is the government looking at improving its monitoring and policing of the legislation which makes desexing compulsory? Will it increase assistance to the RSPCA to deal with this problem?

MR STANHOPE: Thank you for the question. I think I had best take the question on notice, Ms Le Couteur.

The government has been working closely with the RSPCA. We have a very good relationship. I think you are aware that, as a result of pressures that the RSPCA faced, most particularly in the lead-up to Christmas, the government provided an immediate injection of funding assistance to the RSPCA in the second appropriation bill which was designed to meet a significant spike in, I think, both cat and dog presentations to the RSPCA.

The issue of desexing and monitoring is a significant issue. We have a long way to go. I sometimes think that, in terms of depredations, it is quite possible that feral cats do almost as much damage as kangaroos. Perhaps it is an issue that we need—

Mr Hanson: I thought he was taking it on notice.

MR STANHOPE: Well, I do not know the specific answer. Perhaps you do not want information. I think the Greens probably do. I can understand that the fly-by-nighters, the one timers and termers like Mr Hanson that currently occupy the opposition bench probably do not care much. Ms Le Couteur, I am more than happy to take—

Opposition members interjecting—

MR STANHOPE: They are the good timers, not the long timers. That is how we now refer to them. They are here for a good time, not a long time. It could be Mr Hanson’s campaign slogan, I suggest. Some of their slogans are unparliamentary I heard this morning. The word “prat” I cannot believe is a personal representation, but I do respect the Speaker’s direction on that.

Ms Le Couteur, it is a very serious issue. In the context of our lowland woodlands, feral cats most particularly have had an impact. Some of the species are disappearing as we speak. Of course, it was the activity and the damage that cats had done that led us to institute, I think, Australian-leading cat exclusion suburbs in Forde and Bonner. I have asked just recently for advice on extending the cat exclusion suburban arrangements to all new greenfield estates bordering all nature reserve areas within the ACT.

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