Local Government Minister Paul Omodei said today that the Labor Party’s demand for excessive penalties in relation to cruelty to animals was not supported by a 67,000-signature petition presented to Parliament by Labor spokesman Mark McGowan MLA.
“The demands made by Mr McGowan today are not the same as the requests made in the petition,” Mr Omodei said.
“The petitioners asked that penalties be made more severe, and the Government already has a Bill before Parliament to quadruple the maximum fine for acts of cruelty and to introduce a minimum penalty of $1,000.
“The Government’s Bill certainly meets the petitioners’ request, and Mr McGowan and the Labor Party are in no position to claim that the petition supports the extreme penalties the Labor Party now says it wants.
“If the Labor Party had been dinkum with the public, it would have put its proposed penalties on the petition and given people a chance to decide whether they want to be so extreme.”
Mr Omodei said the petition also sought support for the RSPCA, and the Government had recently given the RSPCA $480,000 to help fund its new headquarters in Malaga.
This was in sharp contrast to the previous Labor Government’s one-off grant of $50,000 in the RSPCA’s centenary year.
The Government was not proposing to give the RSPCA the proceeds of fines from prosecutions, because this could result in the RSPCA being accused in contested cases of being a kind of bounty hunter.
The delay in debating the Animal Welfare Bill was now squarely with the Labor Party.
“I introduced the Bill and did the second reading speech last November,” Mr Omodei said.
“In the seven months since then the Labor Party has wasted a great deal of time in Parliament and Mr McGowan has not bothered to put any amendments on the notice paper.
“I suspect they just wanted to play politics with the subject while circulating a vague petition which gives no support to the position the Labor Party has now adopted.”
Media contact: Hugh Ryan 9213 6700