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Animal Welfare

The welfare and wellbeing of animals has not been a priority of any of the five NSW Parliaments I have served since 1988. Notwithstanding, I have been a strong and often lone advocate for animals in the NSW Legislative Assembly.

As an inner Sydney representative I promote responsible pet ownership in return for less restrictions on exercise and access, opportunities on public transport, and accommodation. Pets play a very important role in a great many peoples’ lives, providing love, companionship and security and an impetus for exercise.

While Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, governments and councils have the attitude that pets are not a legitimate part of life. During debate on the 1998 Companion Animals Act I sought to balance pet ownership education and responsibilities with increased opportunities for exercise and access. However restrictions on pets have increased and the aims of the Act to educate owners and the broader community about pet behaviours and benefits have been ignored and undermined.

As Lord Mayor of the City, I am initiating at a local government level, increased unleashed areas for dogs, while offering free dog training to constituent owners.

My latest initiative in Parliament is to reduce the destruction of unwanted dogs and cats, which averages around 60,000 annually in NSW alone. This figure is a shocking indictment on any civilised society. My Animals (Regulation of Sale) Bill would ban the sale of animals in pet shops and markets to reduce impulse buying, which is responsible for many ill considered pet purchases. The Bill would promote purchases from more responsible sources such as registered breeders and animal shelters.

More broadly I have supported animal welfare groups in their campaigns for more humane treatment of farm animals, stopping cruel farming practices such as the unnecessary restrictive caging of pigs and chickens preventing movement and socialising. The wholesale lack of political response to this was shameful.

Finally and again working with Conservation groups, I fight for biodiversity and the preservation of our native birds and animals including the protection of their habitats from land clearing, land development and agricultural pressures. I also opposed hunting in National Parks which promotes killing animals for pleasure and has a potential threat to park users.

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Petition to ban exotic animals in circuses in NSW: Petition to ban exotic animals in circuses in NSW— (8/11/2010)