Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals (Animal Welfare) Amendment Bill

28 Feb 2008 archivespeech

This speech indicates support for the Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals (Animal Welfare) Amendment Bill and the Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK urges all members to support this amendment.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I understand what the Hon. Mark Parnell is attempting to do. We had a briefing from the RSPCA as well as the department, and clearly it is the 80:20 rule—where 80 per cent of these take up 20 per cent of the time, and vice versa. One of the things about which I would be concerned is busybodies (for want of a better word). I am not suggesting that the Hon. Mr Parnell was a busybody; he certainly did not initiate contact between himself and the large dog. I wonder whether the government has any idea about the impact on the inspectorate's resources of those people who repeatedly report things, given that I understand the inspectorate is already under-resourced.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: As my colleague the Hon. Caroline Schaefer alluded to, I believe that there has been much muddying of the waters by Today Tonight on Channel 7 and, unfortunately, FIVEaa has picked up the rather skew-whiff baton as well. Honourable members may have seen a program several weeks ago that related to wild horse riding, an event which took place in Queensland. There were some fairly distressing scenes in which riders were biting the ears of horses and indulging in other cruel practices, which I am sure no-one in this chamber would endorse. Wild horse racing does not take place in South Australia. The body that administers rodeos, the Australian Professional Rodeo Association, opposes wild horse riding, and I believe APRA always seeks to conduct its rodeos in an ethical manner.

I urge all honourable members who supported the disallowance motion last year to support this amendment, because it is consistent with that. There was an error, which may well have been an oversight (I am not quite sure how it came about). The Legislative Council disallowed regulation No. 217, which was tabled on 16 August 2007, which was entitled 'Prevention of cruelty to animals regulations—rodeos'. There was a subsequent regulation, No. 220, on 23 August 2007, which was 'Prevention of cruelty to animals regulations—electrical devices'. I understand that the difference between the two was that there had been some technical omission, and the issue of electrical devices was inserted into the subsequent one. This Legislative Council disallowed the former one, which was superseded and, therefore, the regulations are now in place.

We have the opportunity in this bill to address this matter, which the Legislative Council last year clearly decided that it did not wish to ban. As the minister has stated, that is that we will remove the weight allowances, which will effectively allow events such as calf roping to continue. Interestingly, in defence of her position, the minister stated that to oppose this would enable steers to be used, being heavier than calves. The statistics bear out for themselves that calf roping has a lower injury rate.

I would like to refer to some of the correspondence that has taken place. I received copies of emails from July last year, which came from the Australian Professional Rodeo Association. When it first learned that calf roping was to be banned, the association sought some endorsements from veterinarians, and so forth, and people who would know what is safe practice. There is an email from a gentleman by the name of Professor Ivan Caple, who is a past chairman of the NCCAW. He is a professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Melbourne. His email states:

Attached is the most recent edition of the NCCAW standards (10 June 2006) for the Care and Treatment of Rodeo Livestock. The care and attention provided to all animals used at rodeos is the key to ensuring their welfare, and only qualified and trained people should be involved with the animals. Below is the key section from the NCCAW standard relating to cattle used at rodeos:

I will not read it all, but part of the email states:

Selection of Animal for Rope and Tie Cattle used in Rope and Tie must be fit, healthy, and without defects. The optimum weight for roping and tying is 115kg with a minimum of 100kg and a maximum of 130kg.

He then refers to animals for use in steer wrestling, and again:

...must be fit, healthy and without defects. The optimum weight for animals is 250kg, with a minimum of 200kg and a maximum of 300kg.

He goes on to say:

The Minister should be informed that cattle are used for different events at rodeos, and the specifications for the cattle differ for particular events.

The NCCAW standard specifies the minimum (and maximum) weights of cattle to be used for particular events. The NCCAW is the standard by which all events take place in South Australia. There it is outlined very clearly that the optimum weight for rope and tie is 115 kilograms, which is obviously much less than the steer weight.

I, too, am a member of the RSPCA, and have been a member of the Animal Welfare League for a number of years. The RSPCA is a well-recognised organisation within our community, but I would have to say that there have been some significant concerns about certain factions, if you like, in the animal welfare-concerned citizens who have sought to take over the RSPCA, and it has had some difficulties, which we hope will be allayed. In fact, I know that the RSPCA is opposed to rodeos full stop, and this particular measure may just be some way for the government to be able to say, 'Well, we banned part of rodeos, whereas in fact the RSPCA would like to close down the lot.'

I think that it would be worthwhile if people who have concerns about legitimate rodeos in South Australia would actually go to meet with and observe for themselves the legitimate rodeos, rather than taking footage of people behaving unethically, and trying to pretend that that is what rodeos are about in South Australia. I think the industry is being singled out quite unfairly. The statistics and endorsements speak for themselves.

There is one other reference here that I should have read out as well, which is from John Cornwall, BVSc, who is a former Labor member. He refers to a gentleman by the name of John Osborne, and he says:

It has been my good fortune to serve with John Osborne on the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy Committee on Animals Used in Work, Recreation and Display. I have been impressed by his sound commonsense and his ability to use his long experience to negotiate sensible solutions to complex issues. He has asked me to comment on the issue of calf weights in roping events. I have no specific experience or expertise in the area. However, as a veterinarian with almost fifty years' experience in the profession (including ten years in rural practice in Mount Gambier) it seems obvious to me that, given their relative weights and strength, a calf in the weight range 100 to 130kgs would be significantly less stressed in competition than a steer around 200kgs.

With that, I urge all members to support this amendment.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Can the minister provide details of other fields in which any individual can undertake third party prosecutions? What other parts of our statutes allow for that?