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Barnett Lets the Cats Out of the Bag

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 27 August 2020

Tags: Cat Management, Environment, Primary Industries, Native Wildlife

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Environment spokesperson

The Government had the opportunity to tackle one of the state’s biggest environmental issues, but they fell at the first hurdle.

Despite overwhelming submissions from experts and a wide alliance of stakeholders recommending confinement as the best method for cat control, the Government removed this key fix from their Bill. 

Feral and stray cats not only kill wildlife in their thousands every year, they also have a serious impact on Tasmania’s primary producers and pose a substantial threat to human health. 

A 2015 CSIRO report found that 82% of stray and feral cats studied were infected with toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis has human health impacts and has an untold consequences for Tasmania’s farms, with the most serious effect being on sheep reproduction. 

Instead of tackling the actual issue, Minister Barnett’s Bill included a provision for any person to trap another person’s cat. All the responsibility for protecting property and wildlife is passed from the cat owner to neighbours, vets and cat shelters.

The obligation to keep a cat on its owners property, however, was missing in action. 

The Greens proposed a legislative fix that would have required owners to responsibly keep their cat from roaming. Despite the well-understood risk to wildlife and primary producers, the Labor Party and the Liberals voted against this fix. Only Independent MP, Madeline Ogilvie, voted with the Greens to keep cats contained.

Today in Parliament, Labor and the Liberals failed public health, primary producers and the environment in voting against the Greens’ cat confinement amendment.