Page 1060 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 24 March 2015

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I have raised the important issue of the stress on older people and their pets when the owner is moving into a retirement village or an aged-care residential facility and is faced with separation from his or her much loved pet. I have also been working to support a group that aims to establish a volunteer program to assist people to care for their pets at home when they, or perhaps their pet, become frail.

More recently I have had a correspondence exchange between my office and the minister’s office regarding several animal welfare matters that I would like to see addressed in the near future. I believe this bill goes some way to addressing some of these issues.

Many of these concerns and ideas are presented to me by constituents at my regular mobile offices, while others are raised by various stakeholders. In particular the fallout from the greyhound live-baiting matter generated an additional amount of correspondence around these kinds of issues.

It is always good to see this Assembly being very proactive in tackling animal welfare matters. The introduction of this bill today, and others such as the Animal Welfare (Factory Farming) Amendment Bill 2013, both of which outlaw undesirable factory-type practices in the ACT, are good examples. In particular, this bill addresses the detrimental effects on dogs and cats that the minister mentioned.

I am not aware of any puppy farms in the ACT; indeed, I believe there are none of the other practices that were addressed in the Animal Welfare (Factory Farming) Amendment Bill 2013. However, we all agree it is important for this Assembly to continue to show leadership and to enact measures to stop such activities from ever being practised here in the ACT. By eliminating cruel and inhumane practices, we are upholding both the dignity of the animal and our own dignity.

As with the previous bill, the Domestic Animal (Breeding) Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 will ensure that anyone found engaging in one of these practices in the ACT will be subject to the stipulated penalties.

Of particular importance to me is the issue of a breeding licence. I am glad to see that some thought has been given to this area in sections 72A to 72I. Enforcing the need to have a licence will ensure that breeders meet animal welfare standards, including the number and kind of animals kept, the size and nature of premises and their suitability, potential impact on neighbours, and a conviction or finding of guilt of an applicant, just to name a few. I believe this goes a long way to stamping out unethical breeding practices, which is the aim of the bill.

Of particular concern, and one that I have aired before, is what action should be taken to ensure that puppies that are bred interstate do not find their way into the ACT—a concern that is complicated by our unique geographical location. Section 72J, “Breeding—recognised breeding organisation”, is a step in the right direction. I am very interested to see the impact of this section, as it introduces the concept of a reputable breeder, which is something I have wanted to see introduced for a long time. As with the ongoing discourse about food labelling, having a reputable breeder gives

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