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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 9 May 2018) . . Page.. 1701 ..

information from DAS. We hear the minister commit to additional resources but we hear from DAS themselves that they are understaffed and under-resourced.

The “calls upon” of this motion are really quite simple. It calls upon the minister to tell us what she said she would do and says she has already done. It asks her to provide the cold, hard facts of what she said she would do and what she says she has done.

Given the community’s and our legitimate concerns about the real commitment of this minister and this government to properly support domestic animal services in their tough job, we simply ask for the Assembly to be provided with this information about properly resourcing DAS, for the benefit of our entire community, who do not want to see these tragic events continue to happen without resolution. I urge you to support this simple and straightforward request for information that I have put to the Assembly today.

MS FITZHARRIS (Yerrabi—Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Minister for Transport and City Services and Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research) (4.07): I thank Ms Lawder for bringing forward this motion. It is an opportunity to talk again about the important work that domestic animal services does in our community and the importance of pet owners acting responsibly in our community with their animals. Certainly, it is the case that the management of dogs and prevention of dog attacks have been, and remain, of interest and concern to me, to the government and to our community.

I can assure the Assembly and the community that over the past 18 months, the ACT government has prioritised attention and taken a very proactive approach to identifying and implementing changes to policies and procedures in relation to the management of domestic animals, including dogs. As I have said many times, this government is committed to best practice in how we manage pets in our community. That includes raising our expectations for responsible pet ownership. As part of a best practice approach, it is important to continuously review and improve our laws around dogs and make changes where they are needed.

I note the broad support in this Assembly last year for changes to dangerous dog laws, which are, in a significant way, a legacy of the advocacy of the late Steve Doszpot. But, as noted during that debate, and many others prior to it, laws alone are not the solution to preventing dog attacks. The government is taking a holistic approach to this issue.

For example, we have developed and finalised the animal welfare and management strategy, a cornerstone of our proactive approach to ensuring best practice in animal management and welfare, provided additional funding to the domestic animal services for upgrades to facilities and equipment and for additional staff, and made fundamental improvements to our compliance systems and processes to bring an unprecedented level of rigour to the investigation and decision-making process undertaken in relation to dog attack incidents.

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