Media Release: May 4, 2011; Jon Stanhope, MLA | ACT Labor
Legislation from the ACT Greens Party seeking to regulate the display and sale of dogs and cats should be adjourned while the ACT Government consults broadly on its own reforms which are close to being finalised by an advisory committee, Chief Minister and Minister for Territory and Municpal Services, Jon Stanhope said today.
“The ACT Government welcomes the Greens’ interest in animal welfare matters and agrees an examination of regulations concerning the breeding and sale of animals within the ACT is worthwhile. However, as the Greens are aware, a Government advisory body commenced work on the Government’s reforms long before the Greens announced their intention to legislate,” Mr Stanhope said.
Last year Mr Stanhope requested the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee review the voluntary Code of Practice for the Breeding and Sale of Animals (other than from saleyards) to include both mandatory and enforceable provisions. This is the first mandatory code under the Animal Welfare Act 1992.
Concurrently, Mary Porter MLA has progressed a discussion paper which examines complementary measures to improve the breeding, sale and keeping of pets in the ACT.
Both the draft discussion paper and Code of Practice have received input from key stakeholders and are due to be circulated by the Government for consultation in the first half of this year.
“News of the Green’s proposed Bill (the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill 2010) has created uncertainty for the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee and the wider sector. The poor process of consultation by the Greens, while a Government advisory committee is considering similar issues, has angered stakeholders.”
Mr Stanhope said the Greens’ Bill was aimed solely at the ‘visible’ trade in animals such as pet shops.
“The Green’s Bill directly targets Canberra’s pet shops, an industry that is responsible for only 14 per cent of sales and is already one of the most accountable and closely regulated sectors in the Territory. The Bill as it stands is likely to result in more sales being driven underground, creating more intractable animal welfare challenges in the less visible and informal parts of the market – backyard and occasional breeders, those who breed by accident or through negligence and animals sold through newspapers, at fetes, farmer’s markets or over the internet.”
Mr Stanhope said the ACT Government was committed to improving animal welfare conditions in the ACT through properly developed reforms and community consultation.