STUART GRIMLEY MP

Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

Change the Domestic Animals Act 1994 to include assistance animals as being eligible for zero registration fees.

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Agriculture, and the action that I seek is a change to the Domestic Animals Act 1994 to include assistance animals as being eligible for zero registration fees. I direct this to the Minister for Agriculture and not the local government, for instance, because this change requires amendment to the Domestic Animals Act, administered by Agriculture Victoria. Currently the only exemption from registration fees in Victoria applies to guide dogs and dogs for the hearing impaired. The issue with this is that this does not include all assistance animals, and I believe the exemption should be amended to the current language of ‘assistance animals’. Such animals are widely accepted in the community and are providing many people with valuable support for varied reasons, and this includes those with physical disabilities and veterans of the Australian Defence Force and Victoria Police who are suffering with post-traumatic stress injury and related mental health conditions. I personally know ex-police members with PTSI who have assistance dogs. These dogs are providing incredible support to those veterans, and in certain circumstances the dogs have been credited with saving lives. Section 7 of the Domestic Animals Act 1994 states that guide dogs and dogs for the hearing impaired are exempt from registration fees. This should be amended to resolve the confusion in Victoria surrounding the zero-fee dog registration and bring the language into line with commonwealth law. New South Wales have already amended the wording, and legislation clearly states in the New South Wales Companion Animals Regulation 2018 part 3, item 20, that there is a registration fee exemption for assistance animals. This matter was brought to my attention by a constituent, Lisa Robinson. Lisa is the founder of the assistance dogs organisation Assistance Paws. Lisa is a passionate advocate for handlers and persons with a disability. Many Victorian assistance dog handlers and people with disabilities are being financially disadvantaged by some local councils who refuse to recognise that assistance dogs should be eligible for zero-fee dog registration. There are other councils who do allow for the exemption of registration fees for assistance animals, and for the avoidance of any doubt and to eliminate confusion across Victoria the language should be amended to ‘all assistance animals’. As David Clark, the president of the Municipal Association of Victoria, said:

[QUOTE AWAITING VERIFICATION]

The best way to do this is through legislative changes to the Domestic Animals Act. The current provisions under the DAA are inconsistent with state laws. For instance, under the Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) (Conduct on Public Transport) Regulations 2015 an assistance animal may be taken onto public transport. It uses the definition under the commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992. The MAV says that there is no formal registration or accreditation process through which council can verify the bona fides of the exemption. A definition should be adopted from the commonwealth in order to fix the loophole in this legislation.

 

 

STUART GRIMLEY MP

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