Companion Animals Amendment(Rehoming Animals)Bill 2021

I am delighted to contribute to debate on the Companion Animals Amendment (Rehoming Animals) Bill 2021 on behalf of the Labor Opposition. At the outset, the Labor Opposition does not oppose the bill or the amendments. In essence, the bill seeks to amend the Companion Animals Act 1998 to set out actions a council must take towards rehoming a seized or surrendered animal if it is considering killing the animal. The Minister pointed out that Local Government NSW [LGNSW] and the sector do not oppose the bill and do not consider there to be any onerous issues or impositions on the sector by doing so.

I acknowledge my colleagues in the upper House the Hon. Mick Veitch and the Hon. Emma Hurst. I acknowledge the Hon. Emma Hurst's staff and her passion on this issue, which is so important to many people in our community. I understand that and the Opposition understands that. I also acknowledge Alex Greenwich, the member for Sydney, and his hard work and contribution, as well as the collaborative approach that the Government has taken in formulating the bill. I agree with the Minister that it is a testament to what can be achieved by working together. Ultimately, the best outcomes are always achieved by working together.

I also acknowledge former Minister Shelley Hancock for her efforts and contribution during the course of last year when she was the Minister. The bill provides that a council must take reasonable steps to advertise an animal for rehoming. Ultimately, that gives the community every opportunity to provide the animal with the rights it deserves. The bill and the amendments address that provision. Secondly, the council must reach out in writing to at least two rehoming organisations to see if they are interested in taking and rehoming the animal. That is a fair and reasonable outcome, and a change that must be made. Thirdly, the council must allow the rehoming organisations at least seven days to accept the invitation and make arrangements to transfer the animal. Finally, in the event that an animal is killed, the bill requires the council to keep records of the steps it took to rehome the animal.

It is important to note there is an exemption to the regime, and that is when a vet practitioner determines that an animal is so severely injured or diseased or in such a physical condition that it is cruel to keep them alive. That is why the Labor Opposition does not oppose bill. The sector has been looking for certainty and clarification on this issue. I also note that the stakeholders of the sector—the United Services Union, LGNSW—and others support the bill and the amendments. For that reason, we on this side of the House do the same.

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