A parliamentary inquiry has recommended a bill designed to crack down on puppy farms in Victoria be withdrawn and the legislation redrafted
Chair of the Victorian Legislative Council Economy and Infrastructure Committee, Joshua Morris (Liberal), said while there was unanimous support for a crackdown on unethical breeders the bill was “undermined” by a significant lack of genuine consultation.
“The development of the Bill is undermined by this lack of consultation and engagement with stakeholders in local government, business, animal welfare and the broader community,” Mr Morris wrote in his forward of the report, tabled in the Victorian Parliament today.
“It is clear that the government has neglected to properly engage with the experts in this area; those who work with domestic animals every day and who would have been best placed to provide advice to the government about how to protect the welfare of domestic animals. It is particularly concerning that the Municipal Association of Victoria was not properly consulted, given they are the peak body that represents local councils, who have responsibility for administering and enforcing what has been described as very burdensome legislation.”
The Committee recommended the government abandon the 10 fertile female limit proposed in the Domestic Animals (Puppy Farms and Pet Shops) Amendment Bill 2016 and exempt certain domestic animal hobby breeders from compliance with the proposed legislation.
That main recommendation of the Committee was that the government withdraw the current Bill and immediately establish a stakeholder group of industry, municipal and community representatives to consult on the drafting of a new Bill.
The Committee also recognised a need for extra funding for councils to implement the changes, a longer transition period and the creation of a central compliance and enforcement unit.
In a minority report, the three Labor MPs on the committee, Khalil Eideh, Nazih Elasmar and Shaun Leane said they stood by the Bill which was a Labor election commitment.
They said the Committee recommendations were “contradictory” and that abandoning the 10-dog limit would still allow large puppy farms to continue to operate.
Greens member Colleen Hartland also adopted a minority report. While accepting there were faults in the Bill and the consultation process she did not support the main recommendation to withdraw it and start over, preferring instead to seek amendments to the current bill.