Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 31 October 2018) . . Page.. 4594 ..
I seek leave to make a statement in relation to the paper.
MS LAWDER: Once again the efforts of the Canberra Liberals are going towards making Canberra a safe place for people to walk the streets: on their own, with their families or with their dogs on a leash. The amendment bill that I am bringing to this place today by way of an exposure draft is designed to address those issues of responsible dog management in the ACT.
For some years now the Canberra Liberals have led in this space. We have been consulting widely; in fact we have been using the government’s own reports, which they do not appear to have been in any hurry to implement themselves.
The Maxwell review, which the government received in April this year, was released publicly on 17 September, over five months later. The Maxwell review has 33 recommendations. Some of the amendments that I am putting forward today in this exposure draft cover at least two of the specific Maxwell review recommendations. For example, in the Maxwell review recommendation 11(3) was “fees reduced for training”. The government’s response to this one was that it was “noted”. Recommendation 28 was “remove barriers to relinquish dogs”. The government’s response to that recommendation was that it “agrees” with the recommendation.
Our bill encourages good behaviour, and good and responsible dog ownership and dog management in the ACT. It has three main parts. It includes encouraging responsible dog ownership through the training of dogs. It proposes that there will be no dog registration fee payable if the owner has successfully completed approved dog training with the dog. We will also encourage people to deal humanely with unwanted dogs by making it easy to relinquish a dog, and we will discourage people from keeping dangerous dogs by doubling the fee for dangerous dog licences.
We are as determined as ever to encourage responsible dog ownership in the ACT but what we are focusing on here is not a broad-brush approach that puts onerous restrictions and regulations on every single dog owner in the ACT, because the vast majority of dog owners in the ACT are doing the right thing. They are responsible dog owners. A very small proportion of people are irresponsible, and they are the people that we need to focus on—not by having a broad approach.
We have already heard over and over in this place about the 30 per cent, on average, increase in dog attacks over the past five years. This is a major public health crisis and a major animal welfare crisis. Dogs and cats are being injured, and they are suffering horrific injuries because of people who are irresponsible dog owners.
This government clearly needs to do more to carry out their basic duty of keeping Canberrans safe. They do not seem to care about the physical injuries to Canberrans. They do not appear to care about the emotional injury to Canberrans who have been subjected to dog attacks and who will potentially have mental scars as a result. They may become scared of dogs. They may not wish to walk around in the public spaces near their home anymore.