Media Releases

03
Sep
2014

PRIMARY INDUSTRIES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2014

I rise to contribute to the debate on the Primary Industries Legislation Amendment Bill 2014. It is my pleasure to stand proudly as a supporter of stamping out rogue practices in puppy farms. The Minister for Agriculture and Food Security has been proactive in prosecuting this from the time he took on the portfolio, in contrast to the opposition, which had 11 years in government to address this issue but did absolutely nothing. If we look at the sorts of activities we witnessed under the previous government, we see that it allowed fines for illegal puppy farms to stay at just $1195. It took the coalition government to increase the penalties in 2011. For serious breaches the fines are now up to $88 000. We are serious when we talk about stamping out illegal activity, while the opposition is just a talkfest.

We have done a number of things in terms of stamping out illegal activities. We have introduced the toughest breeding codes in Australia, with more than 100 prescriptions that breeders must follow, such as breeding limits. We have imposed explicit bans on blunt force trauma in euthanasia and the use of wire floor cages in breeding businesses. We have introduced $1.6 million for an animal welfare fund to assist not‑for‑profit groups to rescue and rehome abandoned animals. We have revoked the 28‑day rule, which means shelters are no longer forced to euthanise animals not claimed within 28 days. We are proudly supporting organisations like the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals with $1 million to do the job it does and ensure that animals stay safe.

The bill is another example of how we are proudly stamping out rogue activity. Like other members, I receive letters in my inbox from people who also want to stand up for animals. I address each one to say that we need to do whatever we possibly can to ensure that we stamp out illegal and rogue traders. We have a code of practice for the operation of breeding and rearing businesses, and we will ensure that those people who do not follow those processes are not allowed to operate again. We are very clear on that. The opposition has mentioned that we do not have the power in place to prosecute operators or to actually go into premises and close down illegal practices and seize animals. That is not the fact. There are laws currently in place for that to take place right now, so we are able to do that, and we are ensuring that we can seize those animals, take them out of those premises and close those practices down.

The bill also provides for pet shops to keep proper records to ensure that they follow the processes required of their businesses and their operations. The Department of Environment and Primary Industries is currently preparing a review of the mandatory pet shop code which will go further in looking at how these processes are put in place. That is a very important element. It is the sort of area, whether it be breeders, pet shops or wherever animals are sold, in which animal welfare should be front and centre. Pet shops have responsibilities when they sell animals. We know that quite often people get excited and purchase an animal but the animal is not fit for the environment into which they take it when they go home. When the animal is a Christmas or birthday present or is received for some other reason, the excitement tends to wear off and the animal may end up being dumped on the side of the road or elsewhere. The responsibilities of pet shops will be part of the code of practice that is under review.

The bill is very important. The minister has worked tirelessly on it and will continue to do so. We are not finished, and we should never be finished when it comes to such activities. We need to ensure that our animals are safe and that they have a voice, and we in the coalition will continue to deliver improvements. I find it almost funny that the opposition accuses the government of not doing anything and carries on with suggestions that it would have done this and that and would have gone further, yet when it was in government for 11 years its activity was very thin on the ground, very thin on implementation and most importantly very thin on action. I commend the bill to the house.

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