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Feral and Roaming Cats

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Tags: Cat Management, Legislation

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, I rise to make some comments about one of the most serious environmental issues in Tasmania, which is the damage caused by feral and roaming cats.

I also want to comment on the strength of passion that Dr Broad has brought to the issue of the lunacy of a law to require rowers to where life vests. He has laid out his mission to defend the law which would require the madness of wearing a life jacket for people in that particular sport. I totally endorse Dr Broad's efforts in this area and his comment when he said that the minister needs to talk to the schools and the clubs, because if he does he will understand how upset they are about having to wear life jackets.

I encourage Dr Broad to take the opportunity to build a bridge between and himself and the Tarkine defenders because Dr Broad has made it very clear on the record here in the Chamber that he would personally break this law, because he thinks it is a bad law and it should not be made. He has personally said he is prepared to be a law-breaker for something he so passionately defends. That is on a personal level.

The Tarkine defenders have, for the 40th day now, and every single day, been putting themselves in freezing-cold forest conditions, day on day. People are being arrested and they are doing it for a collective understanding about the life-saving elements of the Tarkine forest, and the life-saving benefits of an intact, temperate rainforest system such as takayna.

Maybe Dr Broad should consider talking to the Tarkine defenders then he will understand how upset they are at a company that has alternative options, at this point in 2021, with the climate heating that is occurring, with the tremendous carbon stores that takayna provides, with the critical habitat for endangered species. He will understand if he talks to them how passionate they are, how upset they are at bad and mad laws that would allow this beautiful rainforest to be flattened for a toxic tailings dam.

I also want to talk about feral cats and stray cats, and the public conversation that has developed over the last week since we tabled a bill in this place about cat confinement, and the necessity for cat confinement in Tasmania.

It is pretty clear that, following the tabling of the bill last week, the majority of Tasmanians, on the record by the Government's own figures, and also from the strength of the comments made to various media websites to the ABC, the Mercury and The Examiner - that Tasmanians passionately want to have these changed. We do not understand why the Liberal and Labor parties were deaf to this obvious change that needed to come into law last year. We certainly hope they will reflect on where we are and what people really want when this matter comes to debate at a later point.

I did not want to talk about the bill, but about the fact that Ms Jan Davis made some comments today about the role of bodies such as the RSPCA taking responsibility for feral cats or colony cats. They have been given the responsibility of managing those cats, and was concerned that any legislation about cat confinement has to recognise the role of cat management facilities under the regional strategies, and recognise that bodies such as the RSPCA do the important work of being given feral cats to deal with.

In their mind, in her words, to be required to take a trapped cat to local government that has no resourcing would not help the situation. We hear Ms Davis, and we hear the RSPCA, along with Ten Lives Cat Centres and all the other cat shelters that do the work of feral cats being dumped to deal with. Any legislation on cat refinement has to include the responsibility of the government of the day to provide funding for local government. That necessarily is the case.

Unfortunately, it is not in the capacity of the Greens in bringing a private members bill to parliament to also provide a budget bill. We do not have the opportunity to include funding in legislation, but absolutely, that is a critical part of mandatory cat confinement.

There is also an opportunity under the existing act, section 41(2), that the general managers of councils can delegate any of their functions or powers under the act, which would include nominating bodies such as the RSPCA or cat shelters suitably funded to be given the responsibility of dealing with cats that had been surrendered to councils or captured by councils. We are behind the cat shelters and the RSPCA in their call for legislation and funding to go to local governments to make sure that the risk of toxoplasmosis, the risk of the incredible damage to farming productivity and the potential risk to human health from toxoplasmosis can be reduced as much as possible by people being responsible for confining their cats to home.