Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals Act

12 Sep 2007 speecharchive

This speech is to move that the regulations made under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1985, concerning rodeos, made on 16 August 2007 and laid on the table of this council on 11 September 2007, be disallowed.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:

That the regulations made under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1985, concerning rodeos, made on 16 August 2007 and laid on the table of this council on 11 September 2007, be disallowed.

The Liberal Party has decided to move to disallow these particular regulations to at least enable this subject to be discussed. In a very sneaky way the regulations were tabled and were sprung on the rodeo operators without any consultation. I find it completely extraordinary that any regulations could be put to the parliament without the government having discussed it with the people who are directly involved in the operations and not talking to them at all. However, that seems to be par for the course in the way this particular government chooses to operate: it consults after it has decided and you can be told about it once it has already made its decision. The Hon. Caroline Schaefer and I met with representatives of the Festival State Rodeo Circuit on Friday (Mr Mark Heuritsch and Mr Andrew Brown, both committee members of that organisation). We were quite surprised to find that they did not even know at the time that the regulations were to be tabled.

We do need to debate this, and all members of parliament should be given an opportunity to decide whether or not they support these regulations.We hope to organise a briefing so that members of the rodeo organisations can come and put their case so that all parliamentarians can hear directly for themselves rather than take it from Liberal members who are seeking to represent them. We will notify you of that in due course.
The argument that the rodeo people have put to us—which seems incredibly rational to me—is that the regulations are flawed, especially regarding the assumption that smaller animals of lighter weight are subject to greater injury. They keep statistics—which are quite comprehensive—and they have provided them to us. Over the period 2002-06 in 4 106 runs in the rope and tie event there was one injury. In the steer roping, which is a minimum of 200 kilos, there were 1 786 runs and two injuries. If one compares that with the other animals, the injury rate is much lower. That is one of the assumptions in the regulations which, prima facie, is quite flawed.

Furthermore, this is additional regulation. This industry is already regulated through federal codes. Rodeos comply with codes, which are published on the federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website at www.daff.gov.au/animal-plant-health/welfare/nccaw/guidelines/display/rodeo. That site brings up several documents, including ‘Standards for the care and treatment of rodeo livestock’. It is quite specific. The areas include: responsibilities of rodeo personnel, rules for the care of livestock, equipment requirements and specifications, stock selection and use, arena selection and use, and specific rodeo events. Part 4, ‘Equipment requirements and specifications’, outlines the use of electric prods, handling aids, event equipment, spurs, flank straps, protective horn wraps, neck ropes and jerk line. The topics in Part 5 include horses, cattle, selection of animals for rope and tie, selection of animals for steer wrestling and selection of animals for team roping. It refers to the weights and so forth, so it is quite detailed.

This code has been developed by a broad range of representatives including animal welfare people, livestock experts and veterinarians. It is not a yo-hick committee that has emerged out of nowhere. It is a national code. Therefore, the point of overlapping that with state regulation is questionable. The rodeo people keep statistics on injury rates, and they have provided those for the years 2001-06, and in relation to 14 000 annual events on average there is an injury rate of five per annum—which is incredibly low. I table the Australian Professional Rodeo Association’s letter to the minister, which outlines its case quite cogently. I commend this motion to the council. I think it is absolutely outrageous that these people have not been consulted and that their concerns have not been taken on board, merely because the government is picking on what it presumes to be a soft target, saying that it is tough on something, because, as we know, there is little substance behind it. I commend the motion to the council.