Canberra Times; BY NOEL TOWELL; 04 Mar
The ACT Government and its Greens power-sharing partners were fighting like cats and dogs again yesterday over ownership of law reforms.
The latest clash over reform to the pet industry follows recent behind-the-scenes bickering between the two parties over shopping trolleys laws, a city centre festival and Christmas and New Years’ night bus services.
Labor’s claws have been out for the Greens since December, when the latter tabled legislation to reform the pet industry while Government backbencher Mary Porter was still working on her discussion paper for a mandatory code of conduct for the domestic animal trade.
The Greens said Ms Porter had allowed her process to become bogged down amid heavy lobbying by the pet industry, but Labor accused the Greens of rushing out a half-baked Bill simply to steal the Government’s thunder on the issue.
The new laws proposed by the Greens would see mandatory licensing for all dog and cat breeders, a new system of microchips to allow animals to be traced to their birthplaces and an update of the territory’s animal cruelty laws.
Ms Porter hopes to complete her discussion paper by June.
Chief Minister Jon Stanhope issued a statement yesterday claiming the Bill proposed by Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur would end up hurting pets. But the Greens shot back, accusing Mr Stanhope of ”parroting” the pet shop lobby.
The Chief Minister seized on a letter written to Ms Le Couteur by the Australian Companion Animal Council that criticised the Greens’ proposals as unnecessary regulation to animal welfare.
The council wrote, ”Experience has shown that an over-reliance on a purely regulatory response to animal management issues results in disappointing outcomes for both the animals and the people who care about them.”
The council recommended Ms Le Couteur’s Bill be ”thoroughly reworked, as the rationale underpinning the proposed amendments is flawed and the Bill will therefore not achieve its desired objectives”.
For more on this story, including Ms Le Couteur’s reaction to Mr Stanhope’s remarks, see the print edition of today’s Canberra Times.