Today Abigail gave notice of a motion calling on the NSW Government to implement a statewide evidence-based cat containment plan - one that is humane, effective and supports pet owners to look after their cats responsibly.
I give notice that on the next sitting day I will move:
(1) That this House:
(a) acknowledges that a number of Councils across NSW have been calling for legislative changes to be made to provide Councils with additional flexibility to introduce cat containment policies,
(b) thanks Councillors for their commitment to protecting native wildlife from roaming cats as well as ensuring the safety of domestic cats, and
(c) notes that these calls from Councils come in the context of a vacuum of leadership from the State government when it comes to both wildlife protection and ensuring the welfare of all animals across NSW.
(2) That this House notes introduction of cat containment policies, either in individual local government areas or statewide, will have devastating consequences for many cats and humans without making any significant difference to the number of wildlife being killed or injured by cats unless such policies are accompanied by at least the following:
(a) a statewide education campaign to ensure responsible cat ownership, including the need to microchip, desex and register pet cats as well as to keep cats indoors,
(b) an end to kitten farms and irresponsible mass breeding of cats which currently discourages the adoption of the thousands of cats in pounds and shelters waiting for their forever homes,
(c) a large-scale and well-resourced program of subsidised desexing and microchipping for domestic cats,
(d) reforms to the regulations governing the Companion Animals Register to ensure that the register is accurate and fit for purpose,
(e) a temporary amnesty on cat registration for those people who failed to register their cats within required time periods and at reduced or no cost for those unable to pay registration,
(f) reform to our rental laws to enable many more people to house cats safely in their homes,
(g) updates to our outdated laws and codes of practice relating to companion animals,
(h) funding for specialist animal shelters to temporarily house companion animals of those fleeing domestic and family violence, and
(i) significant funding and reforms to animal welfare codes of practice to ensure that pounds and shelters across our State are working towards a policy of zero-kill.
(3) That this House notes that:
(a) the ACT Greens-Labor government has brought in a nation-leading 10-year cat containment plan that the NSW Government should take inspiration from, and
(b) giving Councils the flexibility to introduce their own cat containment policies should be a last resort and instead calls on the NSW Government to urgently prepare and fund an evidence-based plan similar to that implemented in the ACT, creating a consistent cat containment policy across the State that takes into account the need to address the factors stated in (2) above and also including:
(i) different approaches for owned cats, semi-owned or community cats, and wild cats based on evidence of what is most effective at genuinely reducing the risk to wildlife while maximising animal welfare outcomes in all three groups,
(ii) a requirement for 24-hour per day cat containment for newly-homed cats, with older cats required to be contained at least at night, and
(iii) a delayed implementation of cat containment laws to ensure all other necessary elements of the plan can be put in place first, but with the implementation date being specified within legislation and being at least 12 months from the date of passing that legislation.