The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Employment, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Science and Information Economy) ( 11:09 :35 ): I move:
That this bill be now read a third time.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 11:10 :12 ): I rise to indicate that the Greens are opposed to this bill, but also to draw the attention of not only this council but the other place to what I believe is an inadvertent error made by the government in the debate on this bill. I refer the government to its own amendments moved to delete, on page 16, lines 11 to 15 inclusive, including the entireties of clauses 10(2)(c) and 10(2)(d), deleting paragraphs (c) and (d).
I say that the government has done this in error because I drew to the council's attention at the time that, by deleting the entirety of those clauses, the government was also deleting its own words that were inserted into the bill that animal welfare was to be considered in the public interest. The government deleted those clauses because they specifically referred to the RSPCA and the RSPCA being able to receive materials.
Of course, the RSPCA never requested, never desired and never supported being the arbiter of what was in the public interest and certainly on animal welfare. However, by deleting those words that animal welfare was 'in the public interest', as they threw the baby out with the bathwater when they realised their error of judgement in not consulting with the RSPCA, the government has left a debate that indicates, by the deletion of those words, that it considers animal welfare is not in the public interest.
I will say that the Attorney-General does not seem to be of this opinion because, in various pieces of correspondence that have then been shown to me by constituents, he has been writing to constituents. I seek leave to table a letter from the Attorney-General dated 14 January, and I have taken the liberty of redacting the name of the constituent who has forwarded that to me. That letter, in regard to the Surveillance Devices Bill, dated 14 January, reads:
Thank you for your correspondence in relation to the Surveillance Devices Bill 2015 ( 'the B ill ' ). I am responding on behalf of the Premier as the matter you raise falls under my portfolio responsibilities.
It goes on to describe what the bill does, but then the third paragraph, I believe, is important for the debate because, as I say, the government, by deleting those words from this bill, have indicated that, should this come before a court, they do not believe that animal welfare is in the public interest. The Attorney-General, in his correspondence to this concerned constituent, says:
The G overnment believes that animal welfare issues are public interest issues and rightly deserve publicity. The proposed legislation does not seek to restrict the filming of animal cruelty , and several exemptions have been included to ensure that legitimate public interest issues are not adversely impacted by the B ill.
The letter is signed by John Rau, as Deputy Premier and Attorney-General. As I say, I table that correspondence.
I draw the council's attention to this issue and I draw the government's attention to this issue because I think it is something that needs to be addressed when this matter gets to the other place and clarified for the public record that this government does believe that animal welfare is in the public interest, and the mistake of inadvertently deleting those words is corrected. I raised this in the debate, but I think in the debate, perhaps sometimes on the floor of the council as things are hurriedly pushed through, these important issues get overlooked.
I think, certainly the Weatherill government has long championed better reforms and protections of animals in this state. I would hope that the government will make that clear when this bill gets to the other place.
Bill read a third time and passed.