Page 3837 - Week 12 - Thursday, 24 October 2013

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must be provided with food and water to maintain good health while they are awaiting sale. There must be regular checks on the comfort and health of animals, as well as treatment for any illness. Animals below a certain age cannot be sold and should not be separated from their parent before a certain age. The person who is selling the animals must provide the buyer with information on the care of the animals.

Many of these measures go to making sure that people who take on a pet understand the responsibilities that go with owning that pet, and that is about ensuring that animals are properly looked after. The next point, which goes to that, is that animals cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 16, without parental support. I think that is quite an important point as well. It also requires that the animals are vaccinated as necessary.

A key part of this code is that it is mandatory and enforceable. This is the first time this has been the case in the ACT, and the code can be enforced by the RSCPA, TAMS rangers or the police, with a series of penalties which can range from just written warnings, on the spot fines, right through to court matters in obviously the most serious of breaches.

Previously people selling animals operated under guidelines only. This was certainly of concern to a lot of people in the community, including stakeholders like the RSCPA who had called for a mandatory code.

I think this is a great development. It certainly makes the situation a lot clearer and provides, I think, very good standards for animals that are going to be sold, whether that is by a pet store or some sort of commercial operation, on the internet, at markets. It applies across the board and sets a good standard for the entire territory.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Berry.

MS BERRY: Minister, can you outline the process as to how the code was developed and what support there has been for the code?

MR RATTENBURY: The code was drafted by the ACT Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, or AWAC. That is a committee that is appointed by the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services. The role of that committee is to participate in the development of codes of practice under the Animal Welfare Act 1992. There are 10 members of AWAC. They come from a range of representative organisations. Those organisations put forward the people that they want to have.

Those organisations include the RSPCA, rural lessees and animal welfare groups. So the committee has a diverse membership. I think that means there is a good quality of advice that comes forward on animal welfare matters. It does mean the committee has to work very hard. I think it is fair to say there are some divergent views on that committee, as you can imagine from the sort of stakeholders I mentioned. But it does mean that, in the work they do together, when they come to an agreement it means we have a code, in this case, that is both good for animal welfare standards and also has buy-in from across a range of sectors.

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