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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 28 October 2015) . . Page.. 3795 ..

The RSPCA provides an animal shelter to care for domestic animals, a wildlife care facility, a veterinary clinic, a dog and puppy training school and education for pet owners. As mentioned in the motion, the RSPCA also plays an important role in preventing animal cruelty through its animal cruelty inspectorate. There are two full-time inspectors working in the ACT. Last year RSPCA inspectors investigated over 1,000 complaints of alleged mistreatment of animals. The inspectors seek to educate owners about their responsibilities to care for animals. In serious cases they may have to intervene by seizing animals or initiating prosecutions against owners who have neglected or mistreated animals.

The vast majority of pet owners look after their animals and value them as a part of their family. However, in cases where people mistreat their animals, there should be appropriate penalties and sometimes appropriate intervention in the event that there are mental health issues as well. Owners who are found to have mistreated their animals may receive a fine; in very serious cases, bans on owning animals can be imposed where this is appropriate. It costs $100,000 each year for each RSPCA inspector.

Although the RSPCA does receive some financial support from the ACT government, the majority of its funds come from generous organisations and individuals who make regular contributions to support its work. Without the support of all these people, the RSPCA would not be able to provide the wonderful service it does. The opposition is of course pleased that the government takes a keen interest in animal welfare. We have been pleased to support legislative changes in the past few years and we will continue to work with the government in this space.

I am pleased that today’s motion calls on the government to develop a long-term strategy for the delivery of animal welfare services in the ACT. I hope that in preparing the strategy the government will seriously consider additional funding but also new models of care and perhaps, in effect, the co-location of what is colloquially known as the pound with the RSPCA. If the Government wants the RSPCA to continue to provide services, it needs to make sure it is appropriately resourced.

The government should also clarify if it is going to deliver on its promise to the RSPCA through the provision of a new facility at Symonston. The RSPCA have been working from its facility in Weston for 60 years. These facilities are now dilapidated and too small for all the services that they provide. The government has promised on several occasions that it will provide a purpose-built facility for the RSPCA in Symonston. Most recently, Minister Rattenbury and Mr Barr announced in 2013 that the new facility would be available for the RSPCA in 2016. Mr Barr said that land had been made available by the LDA. Since that time, we have heard nothing about the new facility. Has the government dropped its commitment or is it still in the pipeline? I would very much appreciate if Minister Rattenbury could clarify exactly where this project is up to.

In conclusion, the opposition will be supporting this motion today. We recognise the great work that the RSPCA does on behalf of all Canberrans, and we call on the government to continue to do all they can to support this worthwhile organisation.

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