Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 14 Hansard (Wednesday, 29 November 2017) . . Page.. 5233 ..
MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (12.12): Firstly, I will go to a couple of points that the minister raised. Initially she said that the government has been working on these amendments for some time, which begs the question why we saw them at 11.55 yesterday. If they have been working on this for months, how it is that the 50 pages were dumped on the opposition just yesterday?
If it is so broad, if all these things are so important, it is not fair that we have changes to breeding licences come about with no consultation with dog groups, no consultation with cat groups. This amendment was put forward at 11.55 yesterday. I doubt there is anybody in Canberra who knows about these changes in breeding licences.
I accept that these do have a tangential connection to dangerous dogs. But at the heart of Mr Doszpot’s bill is dangerous dogs. The very problem of the government not consulting and not taking action has now been flipped 180 degrees: they are now taking action without doing any consultation whatsoever with regard to breeding licences. If they had just stuck to the core issue of dangerous dogs, it would be a much fairer debate happening right now.
We need to change the culture in Canberra. Part of that change will come if we have some tough laws. If dogs start to be seized, if dogs start to finally be destroyed because they are dangerous and they have killed other animals, then perhaps we will not see people flippantly letting their dogs off the leash. Perhaps we will not have situations where dangerous dogs are out in our suburbs. We have a situation at the moment where people think they can get away with it, but we have to change that. A cultural change is not going to come about by the minister saying people should use a lead. Cultural change is going to come by tough laws and enforcement.
The minister also said that you could not differentiate between dogs and other animals. This whole legislation talks about dogs. A dog is obviously a defined term, because this whole document refers to dogs. Dogs and cats can pretty easily be defined.
Where we have got a particular problem is with Labor’s proposed section 7(2)(b)(iii) in clause 3G. It says that the registrar may refuse to register the dog if “the registrar reasonably believes that the applicant has failed, or is unable, to exercise responsible dog management, care or control”.
We have got the same discretion we have now. The registrar pretty much already has this discretion but they are not using it, so that is why we have to change it to a “must”. That is why that should be a must. The registrar must not register a dog if they believe that the applicant has failed or is unable to exercise responsible dog management, care or control. Why would we have a situation where we would allow the registrar to register such a dog? I do not understand. But that is what the minister is explicitly moving in her amendments today. All this talk that we have got these new tough laws as a result of the amendments being put forward by Ms Fitzharris is a bit of a furphy. We need to replace these “mays” with “musts”. Instead, the opposite is happening with the minister.