Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 29 March 2017) . . Page.. 1212 ..
I am not making any comments on it, because I have not read it. It was released this morning. I think that is the logical way for us to proceed at this stage.
I do not feel that it is acceptable for us to pass a motion on this issue that binds the government to doing something without having had the benefit of community and stakeholder input, particularly as today the methodology for this has just been announced. The government’s amendment is better than the original motion in this regard because it will give us all time to consult with stakeholders and the community before we make any binding decisions. Therefore, I will be supporting Minister Fitzharris’s amendment.
MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (11.46): I too rise to support the motion that has been put forward by Mr Doszpot. It is a timely motion for the Assembly to be discussing, given the litany of issues that have been canvassed in the paper and online in recent weeks. Of course, they are just the reported ones. How many others are there where people are either too traumatised or have simply given up on the process, given up on any hope whatsoever that there will be any recourse whatsoever in the case of either a dog attack on another dog or, indeed, an attack on a person?
The Canberra Liberals are concentrating on the things that really matter to Canberrans. We are concentrating on things that actually are within the jurisdiction of this place. Unlike those opposite, who are determined to save the world, we are far more interested in saving Canberrans. We are far more interested in actually ensuring that Canberrans are safe. That is one of the principal responsibilities of a government, to ensure that its citizens are safe. Quite frankly, the laws as they stand at the moment with regard to dangerous dog ownership are not working. They are simply not working. We have soft laws and that means that people are taking advantage of them.
Of course, there are tens of thousands of dog owners who do the right thing. But there are some, or indeed many, that are not. We do need tougher laws. But it is one thing to have tougher laws, one thing to have higher penalty units; it is another to make sure that the laws are actually being enforced. So often we see rules, laws, regulations, instruments put in place that are not enforced. All that ends up happening is that the good guys comply and the bad guys continue to disregard them. That is generally the way it happens with laws or rules that are not enforced. The good guys comply and the bad guys flout them. I believe that is exactly what we are seeing with regard to the dog laws that we have in place at the moment.
We have all got stories. I am sure each member of this place has a story about themselves, someone in their family or a constituent who has come up to them and told them a horrific story about a dangerous dog attack in one form or another. It would be fascinating to know, if you actually did list all these incidents, if you actually listed all these cases, how many of those actually would have had some form of recourse following. I imagine it is very few.
The stories are a dime a dozen. I know myself that when I was walking my whippet in Kaleen there was a dog off its leash. It bolted up to my dog and got it in a headlock. We had to run up to it and physically take this other dog’s jaw off our whippet’s neck.