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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 28 October 2015) . . Page.. 3796 ..

At approximately 6 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Justice, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Transport Reform) (5.59): I would like to thank Ms Fitzharris for her motion today and the opportunity to speak about the ACT government’s commitment to animal welfare in the territory. Of course, being a Greens member of this place, animal welfare is an issue that I take a particular interest in.

Over the last 20 years, in the time that the Greens have been in the Legislative Assembly with animal welfare high in our priorities, much has changed. The ACT is now one of the best jurisdictions for animal welfare in Australia. Here in the ACT we do not have animals in circuses. We do not let people dock dogs’ tails. We do not let people put spurs on cocks for fighting. We do not let companies produce eggs with hens in tiny cages. We do not force sows into stalls. And now, as a result of recent legislative reform, we do not let people overbreed with puppy or kitten farms—an item that was contained in the parliamentary agreement that I signed with the Labor Party in 2012.

It is interesting to reflect on the change in attitudes just across the past 20 years. Some of that change has come relatively easily and quickly; some of it has been more challenging. It took seven different bills over many years until we finally succeeded in outlawing battery hen farms. It is through the work of the RSPCA and other animal welfare organisations that the public are exposed to some of the horrific practices involving animals—puppy farms, greyhound racing and animal abuse.

I think this exposure has largely contributed to the shift in public attitudes towards animal welfare and resulted in a change in position amongst our legislators. Social media has also played a significant role in exposing these issues to the general population. Social media has certainly changed how the community pressures governments generally, and particularly for animal welfare issues. People can no longer pretend that they do not know what is happening as videos go viral and atrocities are exposed. I think technology and social media will play an even more important role going forward.

Certainly, as those changes happen and we reflect perhaps on the past, the RSPCA has played an incredibly important role in helping to drive some of those animal welfare reforms as well as providing a day-to-day care and inspectorate service for animals that are lost, injured or maltreated: the sorts of things that unfortunately do happen to animals.

I would like to highlight some of the specific elements of the important work that the RSPCA ACT undertakes alongside the ACT government. I would also like to acknowledge the work of other volunteer organisations involved in animal welfare in the ACT, including ACT Animal Rescue and Foster, or ARF, as they are commonly known, and Wildlife ACT, a newer group dedicated to caring for injured native wildlife in the territory.

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