Thursday 19 November 2009
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - I will just make a short contribution because when the Leader realised that I was going to speak he frowned.  I got the message loud and clear.  It was interesting to have the member for Windermere up.  I recall just recently having talked about the fox free task force, looking to utilise their ability to know where feral cats are to in fact help with the eradication of feral cats.  It must be about four or five years ago now that I received quite a bit of criticism from around Australia.  The member for Mersey was just telling me that when they went to do their cat management work in the Latrobe Municipality he had representation from around the world, so it is quite an emotional issue dealing with the cats in modern society.

I have already spoken to the Leader in respect to some issues surrounding some confusion there with cats related to dogs and the legislation set up for dogs.  I have some information here from Diane Burkhalter from my electorate who has -

Ms Thorp - Is that dangerous dogs?

Mr FINCH - No.  There is a reference there to dogs and the Dog Act, but in fact it is quite different.  I am just trying to find that particular part of the information.  Diane Burkhalter says that the words 'and cares for' were not included in the previous Dog Control Act in 1987 and 2000, as evidenced by the attached excerpts of those acts.  The words 'and cares for' were not included within the Latrobe Cat Management By-law No. 1 of 2006, and she sent me a copy of that bylaw.  In section 4(a) of the Dog Control Act,  the owner of the dog, in the case of an unregistered dog the person ordinarily keeps the dog.  They were words that were used in the dog legislation but 'and cares for' comes into the cat legislation.  I have alerted the Leader to Diane Burkehalter's concerns and her highlighting of that and I am hoping that he can address that.   The definition of owner: 'the person who, or the owner of the business or organisation that, ordinarily keeps and cares for the cat;'.  So there are two elements here: keeps and cares.  However, if a person or an employee gives a stray cat food or water and does not eject it from a place where it may have taken up abode, does that person keep and care for that cat?  The cat may not be patted or cuddled but the person does not want the cat to starve or to dehydrate, and so gives it some food and water.  Also, unknown to an employer, an employee may be providing food or water for a cat.  Is it right that the employer is, in law, the owner of the cat?  That is one of the issues that Diane Burkhalter has highlighted.

The other issue of concern is the poor old moggie.  If this bill is passed in its present form, it seems to be the death knell for that most important companion animal, the moggie, the cross-breed cat of unknown parentage.

Mr Gaffney - Point of clarification.  That is not how I have read the bill regarding moggie.  It says a licensed breeder.  If you want to be a licensed breeder and have a few moggies, it does not have to be purebred cats.  I think that it is important that we put that on the record. 

Mr FINCH -  In the next four years, as we go through a process, what if the moggie has a litter? 

Mr Gaffney - As long as it adheres to the rest of it. 

Mr FINCH - As long as it reads the legislation.

Mr Gaffney - As long as the licensed breeder can breed moggie cats.  The demise of the moggie is not going.

Mr FINCH - I see the point you are making. 

Ms Thorp - Moggies need love too.

Mr FINCH - Moggies need love too.  Now there is a quote. 

If I hark back to my childhood and think of the issues of abandoned cats, and stray cats, and cats having litters, and how they had to wring their necks and would drown the litter.  They were the bad old days.

Ms Forrest - That was many, many years ago wasn't it?

Mr FINCH - Many, many years ago.  I saw a lot of it when I was a kid. 

Ms Forrest - And you can remember that far back?

Members laughing.

Mr FINCH -  Yes.  It is about time for me to sit down, I think.  I would be interested to see how some of the amendments unfold. 

I suppose, in some ways, congratulations to this Government for carrying out the investigation, for doing the work on what is a very sensitive subject.  It is a contentious issue because of people's love of cats and the very important companionship role that they play in people's lives.  I remember speaking with the minister for human services all those years ago and she did alert me to the fact that there was the investigation being carried out.  It was quite an interesting area to get into.  What we are seeing here is the end result of that work that has gone on through the community.