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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 28 October 2015) . . Page.. 3794 ..

place, ensuring different agencies of government and animal welfare organisations are sharing appropriate information and working together to prevent and punish abuse and neglect, and legislative reforms to ensure inspectors are appropriately supported by legal processes.

The aim of both the ACT government and the RSPCA is to proactively take steps to improve animal welfare rather than responding to terrible cases of cruelty when they occur. As always, prevention is better than cure, and long-term planning is key.

Canberrans love their animals and we hate to think of any animal being mistreated or neglected. But, sadly, it does happen. In 2014-15 RSPCA ACT inspectors did some amazing work in sometimes distressing circumstances with nine successful prosecutions compared with none the year before, 22 matters awaiting court decisions compared with three the year before, and 981 animals either seized or surrendered to inspectors this year.

In better news, for the second year in a row the RSPCA ACT had the highest number of kitten adoptions ever recorded, beating last year’s record by 76 kittens, or nine per cent, and also had the lowest number of adult cats and dogs euthanased ever recorded. In addition, on a lighter note, in this week leading up to the Rugby World Cup final, I note that the discovery of Chris the sheep on Mulligans Flat was another opportunity for Australia and New Zealand to face off in a contest, and in this event Chris from Mulligans Flat won the day with the heaviest coat ever discovered on a sheep. So that is notch one up to Australia and let us see what happens in the final of the Rugby World Cup this weekend.

I know that the ACT government is committed to working with the RSPCA and other animal welfare groups to consistently improve outcomes for companion and agricultural animals in Canberra. I look forward to seeing what comes from the ongoing consultation process and trust that we will continue to be one of the most proactive jurisdictions with regard to animal welfare in the world. I hope members can support this motion today, and I look forward to further debate in 2016.

MR COE (Ginninderra) (5.54): The opposition is pleased to support Ms Fitzharris’s motion today. The RSPCA is a community organisation that does a great job educating animal owners, preventing animal cruelty and, of course, looking after injured and lost animals too. The RSPCA in the ACT does a huge amount of work, much of which is usually undertaken by the government in other jurisdictions.

As I have previously said, the work of the RSPCA is an example of the way that private organisations and groups of individuals can stand up and often do a better job than the government could if they had to deliver those services. Where an individual or volunteer has a dedication and a commitment to a particular cause, they will often be more productive than would be a government agency. This principle can be applied to many areas where the government is currently delivering services in some instances.

The RSPCA relies on a dedicated group of paid staff and over 500 volunteers. Carers at the RSPCA look after more than 9,000 companion and native birds and mammals each year. Volunteers walk 20,000 kilometres each year while exercising dogs, and volunteer wildlife carers spend over 400,000 hours caring for injured native wildlife.

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