Today Abigail voted in support of a successful motion to amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment Bill that would see greater protection for animals through stronger enforcement and punishment measures including mandatory animal bans for people convicted of particularly serious crimes against animals.
Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (16:40): On behalf of The Greens I speak briefly to these amendments from the Legislative Assembly. New South Wales has some of the most lax animal cruelty legislation in Australia, and strengthening our laws to deter animal cruelty and penalise those who are cruel to animals is of utmost importance. So while the passing of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment Bill 2021 today is greatly welcomed, it is disappointing that this House passed amendments to strengthen the bill 11 weeks ago and it has taken the Minister until now to make a decision on them. Over the past three months animals across New South Wales have continued to suffer due to delays by this Government.
In the interests of getting this important piece of legislation enacted without further delay The Greens will not be opposing the amendments passed in the other place. The amendments which we are asked to agree to today amend three of the amendments passed by this House back in March. The Greens are glad to see that the Government has accepted most of the amendments successfully moved by The Greens and by the Hon. Emma Hurst. First, this legislation will see the introduction of mandatory lifetime animal bans for all people convicted of particularly serious crimes against animals, including aggravated animal cruelty under the Prevention of Cruelty To Animals Act and serious animal cruelty and bestiality under the Crimes Act. As with the issuing of punishments, the courts have consistently failed to voluntarily issue animal bans to people convicted of these crimes when given the discretion to do so, and so for the protection of other animals it is necessary to make animal bans mandatory in especially heinous circumstances.
Secondly, this legislation will, due to The Greens amendments accepted by the Government, extend the time in which prosecutions can be brought for cruelty to animals offences. It extends the statutory limitation from the current 12 months to three years and it starts the clock at the time that the evidence of the alleged offence first came to the attention of the police or approved charitable organisation, rather than the date on which the offence was committed. This follows a recommendation from the Select Committee on Animal Cruelty Laws in New South Wales. Thirdly, this legislation will now finally address the need to review the Animal Welfare Code of Practice for the breeding of dogs and cats. As we noted during previous debate on this bill this particular code of practice is sorely out of date and creates unduly onerous requirements for so-called hobby breeders while failing to address genuine problems of puppy farming.
It is heartening to see that the Government has now agreed to review the code, however it is disappointing that the date of that review needed to be changed from 31 May to 31 August 2021 due to the Government's delays in finalising this legislation. The Greens will be closely following the review of the code of practice to ensure that the necessary consultation and updates occur. I add to the record my thanks to the Hon. Emma Hurst and the Hon. Mick Veitch for their cooperation in finally getting this bill back to the House so it can be passed.
To see the full debate, see Hansard here.