Pets & animal welfare
February 17, 2011
I am a strong and often lone advocate for animals in the NSW Legislative Assembly – an environment where animal issues are considered fringe or a low priority.
Australia has the highest rate of pet ownership in the world and the love and companionship of pets saves the national health bill over $4 billion a year. Yet pet owners are treated as second class citizens and restrictions prevent responsible pet ownership.
I call for pets to be allowed on public transport and for the removal of blanket bans on pets in apartments and rental properties. The City of Sydney has increased off-leash areas for dogs, and offers free dog training, community-wide education, and subsidised desexing for pensioners’ pets.
Since 2009, the Sutherland Animal Shelter has cared for the City’s lost and abandoned pets. The City contributed $300,000 to increasing the capacity at the facility, which has the lowest euthanasia rate in Australia, provides a high level of care and aims to rehome every suitable animal.
My Animals (Regulation of Sale) Bill would have banned the sale of pets in pet shops to prevent impulse buying, reduce cruel mass pet-breeding, and help reduce New South Wales’ appalling annual killing of 60,000 unwanted cats and dogs.
I oppose factory farming of animals like the cruel caging of pigs and chickens that prevents movement and socialising. I support humane approaches to feral animal problems and fight for biodiversity and the preservation of native habitat, including protection from land clearing, development and hunting in forests and national parks.
Native plants and animals are being audited in the City of Sydney to encourage biodiversity and native wildlife, especially small birds that are increasingly threatened. The findings will be used to review the City’s Street Tree Masterplan and encourage native landscaping on private property.
Recent park projects have included a specific biodiversity focus—including a estuarine aquatic native habitat on the Glebe foreshores; planting endemic species at Pyrmont’s Pirrama Park; and locally harvested seeds and cuttings grown for the new Orphan School creek, including species identified in the Glebe Society’s Blue Wren Habitat Conservation Study.
I have asked City staff to identify where native plantings can be increased on City streets and in our parks to encourage birdlife and wildlife. This isn’t possible everywhere, as some exotic species survive better in harsh urban conditions or are more suited to the landscaping in our historic parks.