I've received a steady flow of complaints from hobbyist dog breeders, who are now being intrusively inspected by some RSPCA inspectors. The RSPCA is given extraordinary powers, enabling them to enter private properties without warning.
Minister for Agriculture and Western New South Wales, Adam Marshall, has increased funding to the RSPCA for the purpose of targeting 'puppy farms'. A puppy farm is loosely defined as an underground large-scale commercial dog breeding facility where animal welfare standards may be compromised, and of course nobody wants to see cruelty to dogs.
Unfortunately, the RSPCA isn't differentiating commercial puppy farms from the family pooch who has just a single litter. The sale of any of number of puppies for any amount of money would render the 'breeder' subject to the same standards as a full-scale dog breeding facility.
People in their own homes who have bred some puppies are now being unfairly targeted and unreasonably expected to meet certain standards, such as requiring six-foot-high fences, even if you have a Chihuahua, which has no chance of jumping even a 3 foot high fence.
Another unreasonable requirement is having to place the name and telephone number of the breeder at the point of entry to the property, which unnecessarily exposes personal information to anyone on the street.
Recently I met with the Minister's representative in parliament to raise the issue, but they've clearly indicated the Minister won't entertain any changes to rectify the situation. It's just not right and it's just not fair.
Last week in parliament I contributed to the debate on the Government's Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (POCTA) Bill 2021. The bill is clearly designed to create revenue, as fines will be increased eight-fold!
There's no justification to such significant increases to penalties. The RSPCA is targeting the family home and pets, instead of the dodgy puppy factories. They're targeting low-hanging fruit, purely for revenue.
FOREIGN AG WORKERS
COVID-19 has had an impact on almost every sector, some of which is yet to be felt. The absence of foreign seasonal agricultural workers is a serious concern for the ag sector, with many wool growers nervous about whether or not they'll get a shearing team to shear their flock, and orchardists who are unsure if they'll get anyone to pick their fruit.
Many farmers are still suffering the financial impacts of the recent drought and cannot scrape together the funding to pay for the significant costs of quarantining inbound foreign ag workers.
As the pressure is beginning to mount on our farmers, last week I asked an important question of Adam Marshall, Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW.
I said to the Minister, "small and medium growers have indicated that the initial outlay to access the workers schemes are too high when employers are required to pay $3000 of quarantine fee for each worker. Will there be subsidy of quarantine costs for small and medium farming enterprises that are reliant on foreign workers through the Pacific Labour Scheme or Seasonal Workers Program considering?"
The Minister made no commitment in his reply, however he did indicate the NSW Government would now consider the issue and would make an announcement in the near future. In the meantime, many primary producers will be anxious with uncertainty.
Member for Orange Phil Donato
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