Health and Child Wellbeing Legislation Amendment Bill 2017

Second reading

Mr WALSH (Murray Plains) (16:19:13) — I move:

That the debate be now adjourned.

The reason I move that the debate be adjourned is that during the debate on the government business program on Tuesday the Leader of the House said:

I signal to the opposition that the government is agreeable to that, time permitting —

that being consideration in detail on the Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farms and Pet Shops) Bill 2016 —

As has been our recent practice, that time will be made available on Thursday afternoon.

I have been sitting here for quite a period of time as we have been talking about the Health and Child Wellbeing Legislation Amendment Bill 2017. The debate has gone for quite some time and has become repetitious. Given that there was an agreement to deal with the puppy farms bill in consideration in detail, I would like to see that agreement honoured. There were 32 pages of amendments that only became available to the opposition on Monday, and there are a lot of questions that we would like to take into consideration in detail and ask the minister representing the Minister for Agriculture in this house.

The dog owners who have contacted us have raised, as I said, a lot of issues. There is something like 600 dog owners and members of Dogs Victoria in the Macedon Ranges area who have come to me specifically with a whole range of questions that they would like answered. I would like the opportunity to put those questions to the minister and get those answers rather than have the debate gagged.

There are very important questions to be asked on behalf of the cage bird sellers. As we all know, there were some consequences for those who sell non‑native birds that have meant it has been very, very difficult for them to hold bird sales since this issue has been raised. They have also sent some questions to us as well.

For those who will be applying to be commercial breeders in the future, there is nothing in the legislation that gives any time line for when the additional regulations will be needed or when it will be determined that they will have to comply with them to become a commercial breeder in this state. I can see nothing in the legislation before us, which is why I would be looking to ask the minister questions about the process for developing those regulations. Will there be a regulatory impact statement about those particular regulations, and will they be disallowable regulations into the future? This side of the house would like some scrutiny around that.

When those regulations are finally developed and they are finally in place for people to apply for — which again is something I would like to raise with the minister — as I understand it, if the chief veterinary officer gives reasons as to why someone should not have a licence to be a commercial breeder, there is no right of appeal around that particular provision in the legislation. We would like to get those answers for those people out there who are conducting commercial businesses and have significant financial investment in those businesses. They are at risk if they cannot get answers like this from the consideration‑in‑detail stage.

If someone does go through that process and does finally get a permit to operate a commercial business, they initially only get that licence for 12 months. Subsequently they can get it renewed for three years. We would like there to be some certainty for those people. They need to know what rights they have in that particular time frame so that they can go to their bank manager and understand what risks the bank would take with people not having a licence to operate into the future.

As I understand the amendments — and this is why I want to ask the minister some questions in consideration in detail — there is in new section 58AH detail about a commercial dog breeding business transferring from one property to another, but there is nothing that I can see that talks about how someone could actually sell their business to another person and how that licence and business can be handed across. That is another question I would like to ask of the minister.

This legislation sat around for over 12 months, and then 32 pages of amendments were dropped on the table on Monday. There are a lot of questions to be answered, and I am bitterly disappointed that the Leader of the House, after giving a commitment on Tuesday, would now renege on that commitment. On behalf of the 10 000 to 15 000 dog owners in Victoria who are very, very interested in this legislation, I advise that they are bitterly disappointed in the Andrews government and the minister.


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