Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 28 October 2015) . . Page.. 3793 ..
now need to adhere to declared minimum standards covering areas such as the age at which a dog or cat can be bred, the number of litters they can have and the frequency with which they can be bred.
People found responsible for the intensive breeding of female dogs and cats can now be charged up to $15,000 for an individual and $75,000 for a corporation that exploits animals for the pet market. The ACT government has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to implementing sensible and progressive animal welfare legislation and this will continue into the future I am sure.
During this year’s budget estimates process we heard from the CEO of the RSPCA ACT, Tammy Ven Dange. She outlined a number of concerns around the operation of animal welfare laws in Canberra, particularly around the perceived need for amendments to allow RSPCA officials to undertake their roles more effectively. The RSPCA provided the committee with a summary of key areas of proposed reform to legislation, including a civil bond process for violations of the Animal Welfare Act; changes to the Animal Welfare Act to allow for recovery of costs to be awarded as part of a guilty verdict, at least for medical costs incurred; limiting the number of animals in a residence; amendments to seizure powers; additional enforcement powers; minor amendments to current offences and new offences under the Animal Welfare Act; and clarification in relation to ancillary offences and penalty reviews.
The estimates committee agreed that the legislative issues highlighted by the organisation warranted further investigation. Ms Ven Dange went on to provide an overview of the recent activities of the organisation and some of the challenges they face. She explained that the RSPCA have been taking on more resource-intensive activities, such as animal control and enforcement, on behalf of the government, that fall outside the RSPCA’s core work of prevention of cruelty to animals, and have been working to develop relationships with local organisations and rescue groups, but there are no comparable organisations in the ACT with the expertise and facilities of the RSPCA.
She advised further of the need for collaboration with similar NGOs and government around preventive approaches to animal neglect and abuse and cross-agency communication with ACT Housing, mental health teams and the Australian Federal Police. The estimates committee agreed that the work undertaken by the RSPCA should be commended and also noted the importance of collaboration and education and promoting animal welfare across the territory.
In light of this, the committee recommended the government develop a long-term strategy for the delivery of animal welfare services, including preventive investment and educational approaches. In the government’s response to the report, it was noted that, given recent changes at the RSPCA, preparatory work on developing a long-term strategy for animal welfare services in the ACT is underway. This is great news, and I am pleased to have the chance to again reiterate today the need for a long-term strategy.
Investment is also important. We need to consider not only resourcing but also a more efficient use of the resources we already have. This can mean looking at improved preventative investment and education that sees fewer animals in danger in the first