Page 3798 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 28 October 2015

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model that worked inside one facility. That money was allocated. The piece of land had been identified. What I can update the Assembly on is that it was actually the RSPCA who came to government and said, “We’re not ready to proceed at this time.” As members no doubt are aware, the RSPCA have experienced some difficulties in recent times, and their position to us was that they needed to get—to use a colloquial term—their own house in order. I do not mean that in a critical sense, but they needed to do some internal stabilising before we were able to continue the discussions on a new facility.

That issue will be very much part of the long-term strategy for the delivery of animal welfare services that today’s motion calls for and that it sounds like the Assembly will unanimously agree to. That issue will be tied in to that. I can update Mr Coe and other members of the Assembly that that is the timing for us to have some clarity on that matter. With the RSPCA asking us to hold off, we have agreed to that, but we have also indicated to them that we are ready to go when they are. That is the discussion that will be resolved over the next six months.

When it comes to the issue of legislating for improved animal welfare, again, some work is underway in this area, and I would be pleased to provide the Assembly with an update. It is important that that work takes place in partnership with key stakeholders. As recently as yesterday, staff in the Territory and Municipal Services Directorate met with representatives of the RSPCA, including their legal representatives, and the Chair of the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee to discuss proposed changes to the Animal Welfare Act.

The Animal Welfare Advisory Committee is established under the Animal Welfare Act to advise the minister on a variety of issues concerning animal welfare, including but not limited to the development of codes of practice relating to animal welfare, to provide advice about programs for the improvement of community awareness about animal welfare, and to advise the minister about any other matters. Certainly I have engaged with AWAC on a number of occasions in this term on animal welfare issues that have come up. I have taken the opportunity of having such a diverse organisation give me feedback on issues that have arisen. The committee consists of 11 members and they represent a broad cross-section of community views on animal welfare in the territory, including animal welfare organisations, the pet shop industry and the veterinary profession. I find that to be a very valuable committee. They certainly play an important part in any discussions around proposed changes to the Animal Welfare Act.

Earlier this year, partly in response to community sentiment in respect of animal welfare cases highlighted by the RSPCA, the government requested that targeted amendments be made to the Animal Welfare Act to promote and protect the welfare, safety and health of animals, ensure the proper and humane care of animals and reflect the community’s expectation that people who keep or care for animals will ensure that they are properly treated. In addition I requested that a community education campaign be developed to increase awareness about basic and reasonable standards of animal care.

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