Companion Animals Taskforce Report

Companion Animals Taskforce Report

My question is directed to the Minister for Fair Trading. What action will the Minister take in response to the New South Wales Companion Animals Taskforce recommendations to remove barriers to keeping pets in strata and rental accommodation and retirement villages, given that the taskforce was established to help the Government reduce the State's very high cat and dog euthanasia rates

(Question Without Notice, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

Mr ANTHONY ROBERTS: I thank the member for his question and appreciate very much his sincere interest in this matter. I also take this opportunity to commend the Companion Animals Taskforce for its report, and particularly my colleague the member for Charlestown, who chaired the taskforce. It is timely to acknowledge the Minister for Local Government and the Minister for Primary Industries, who had the foresight in 2011 to bring together key stakeholders to drive the companion animals agenda. All members of this House are aware of the Government's extensive ongoing review of strata and community laws. As part of this major policy reform process, the Government is determined to remove some of the current barriers to pet ownership in strata schemes.

In the current model by-laws for strata schemes there are three options for regulating pet ownership. The default option, as members know, is to ban pets. This has meant many strata schemes that have adopted the model by-laws currently have a ban in place, even though many owners would be happy to allow pets in the building. This Government proposes to amend the model by-laws to allow pets to be kept with the approval of the owners corporation. Permission cannot be refused unreasonably, and I expect that over time this will lead to a rise in the number of pet-friendly strata buildings in the city and in the State. Individual strata schemes will retain the power to ban pets, or certain types of pets—such as brown snakes—if they wish to, but it will no longer be the default option.

It is my intention to release a policy paper in the near future that will clearly set out the Government's proposed comprehensive reforms in this important area. This is good news for pet owners across the State. Pet owners are already happy following the Treasurer's budget yesterday—and what a budget it was. Pet owners welcomed a budget that secures the future for New South Wales. Pet owners are happy to see that this Government is boosting funds for front-line services. Pet owners are pleased to see a budget that is restoring finances, driving jobs growth, building infrastructure and boosting services. So it distresses me to inform the House that, unfortunately, there is one pet owner in New South Wales who has had no end of bad news. Mr Mark Lennon at Unions NSW has had nothing but trouble from his pets sitting on the benches opposite. He has tried muzzling them, he has tried neutering them, he has tried deworming them—nothing seems to be working.

As the House knows, the strata laws are 50 years old. They were constructed at a time when the biggest strata development was a red brick three-storey walk-up. Of course, things have moved on. This Government has tackled a very hard issue. It is a knockdown rebuild of strata and as we see the development of these new vertical villages it is important that people are allowed to work together and live together in a way that gets away from the traditional pets, parties and parking issues. We need to drive real reform through legislation that reflects the needs of the people of New South Wales. I say again on behalf of everyone in this House that we are proud to have a reformist Premier. We are proud to have a Treasurer who, for the first time in a long time, has delivered an incredible budget to the people of New South Wales, be they pet owners or not pet owners.

Let's work together to celebrate and protect our great city!