Page 2319 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 2 August 2017
(j) that a six year old boy is savagely mauled by dogs on premises of ACT public housing, there is no effective legal remedy and the circumstances are not regarded by the Chief Minister as special circumstances raises the question as to what circumstances would the Chief Minister ever regard as being special; and
(k) the Government parades a Human Rights Act asserting rights and freedoms (which one may assume includes the right and freedom of a six year old boy residing in the ACT to be secure from attack by vicious dogs in properties owned by ACT Housing) but which does not give people properly effective remedies when such rights are breached; and
(2) calls on the ACT Government to:
(a) reconsider its decision not to provide an ex gratia payment;
(b) show what actions the Government has taken to address the suggestion by the court to address the serious and alarming deficiencies in the laws of this Territory regarding the control of dangerous dogs and lack of effective remedy for people attacked, mauled and injured by dogs;
(c) show what actions the Government has taken to address the suggestion by the court to consider the requirement to have the Housing Commissioner to have a duty to regulate the keeping of dogs in public housing;
(d) show what actions the Government has taken to address the suggestion by the court to tighten the capacity for DAS to act against dangerous and menacing dogs; and
(e) show what actions the Government has taken to address the suggestion by the court to establish a scheme of insurance to cover and compensate people so injured by attacking dogs.
In May 2017 the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory handed down a decision in Hartigan v Commissioner for Social Housing in the ACT which revealed deficiencies in the laws of this territory regarding the control of dangerous dogs and the lack of effective remedy for people attacked, mauled and injured by dogs.
The decision given by the judge was along conventional legal lines, finding that the commissioner of public housing was not liable where pit bull terriers kept on public housing premises attacked and severely injured a six-year-old boy. A claim against the owner or keeper of the dogs was of no assistance, as that person could not pay damages or other compensation to cover the costs caused by the injuries and the ongoing treatment of the little boy viciously mauled by two dogs, which in effect bit him and tore his body in a horrendous tug of war.
Amongst comments in Justice Hilary Penfold’s judgment was also a suggestion that the territory could consider establishing a scheme of insurance to cover and compensate people injured by attacking dogs. This motion does not imply any criticism of Justice Hilary Penfold’s decision upon the law. What is of ongoing and serious concern, however, is the response of the ACT government to the predicament of the injured boy and his parents.