Health Agriculture | November 30, 2017

Health And Child Wellbeing Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 - Second reading

Victorian Parliament - 30 November 2017 - Ms KEALY - I rise to speak in support of the member for Murray Plains’s motion to adjourn debate. Clearly the Health and Child Wellbeing Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 is an important bill, and I do not think that that has been in question. However, we have heard from members of the government reading the same speech notes and delivering the same speech over and over again for the past 2½ to 3 hours. We are not hearing any new material being brought to the debate, and I think it is disappointing that this filibustering is continuing when there have been so many concerns raised around the Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farms and Pet Shops) Bill 2016.

If we refer back to the Leader of the House, what she stated on Tuesday of this sitting week was:

I signal to the opposition that the government is agreeable to that, time permitting. As has been our recent practice, that time will be made available on Thursday afternoon.

We had the inaugural speech from the new member for Northcote, but this is reference that we will have opportunity to bring the Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farms and Pet Shops) Bill into consideration in detail today. There is a very good reason that we want to debate this bill and bring it into consideration in detail. There are 32 pages of amendments in relation to this bill, and we were only briefed on these amendments on Monday afternoon. There are many, many questions that need to be answered and these are not questions that we are raising ourselves — these are questions that have been raised by people in our own electorates, people who are deeply concerned about how this bill will impact on their business and their industry.

I think that it is certainly warranted that those questions are allowed to be asked of the minister responsible in this place and that we should be able to seek answers so we can relay this important information back to them because, seeing that there are 32 pages of amendments, there really is a lot of material to go through and we know that this bill has been deeply flawed from the beginning. This bill, as I said, is from 2016 originally. It has gone through an inquiry. The government took it out of circulation and made a huge number of changes to it because it simply did not hit the mark. It was going to create enormous damage to legitimate breeders within our state.

One of the key questions that I wanted to ask the minister responsible in this place was for an explanation as to how this bill will operate in relation to working dogs, particularly how it will impact on the working dog auction which is featured as part of the Casterton Kelpie Association festival which is held every year in beautiful Casterton. The working dog auction is held on the Sunday of this weekend event and is the main fundraiser which keeps that event going. It is now in its 21st year and the voluntary committee do an outstanding job, but they have expressed to me deep concern that any changes to this legislation may mean they can no longer hold those kelpie auctions. It may mean they can no longer have their main stream of revenue that will keep the festival alive. If Casterton is at risk of losing its festival, then I think that we should certainly see some amendment to this bill to make sure that is not the case.

This is a very important community event. If people have not been to that event before, it is not just about the working dog auction; there are fantastic dog events over the entire weekend with lots going on in Casterton. The auction in itself has raised in excess of $2 million over the past 21 years. That is an enormous amount of money going through this very small community, and it is something that supports so many businesses in the region. I still would like that question answered, if at all possible, to support the fantastic Casterton Kelpie Association, the hard work of Karen Stephens, the president of the committee, and also Nancy Withers, who does a fantastic job in running the working dog auction as chairperson of that subgroup.

We need to make sure we have adequate time for consideration in detail of this bill. There are 32 pages of amendments which were briefed to us on Monday afternoon, with many more questions from breeders right across the state. There are lots of questions also from not just dog breeders but also cat breeders and people in the bird industry — right across the board. We need to have those questions answered. The people who are involved in and who rely on this industry deserve to have these questions answered, and I urge the government to support this motion to adjourn debate immediately.


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