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Motion: Cat Management

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I thank those who have made a contribution today: the Hon. Dr Nicola Centofanti, and the Hon. Russell Wortley. I will start with what I think is possibly a misunderstanding by the opposition, and I will draw their attention to the definitions in the FAQs in the RSPCA and the AWL's document in regard to a proposed South Australian cat management plan. One of the FAQs is: does the plan propose changes to feral cat management? The answer is:

No, feral cats are very different from urban stray cats. Ferals, unlike urban strays, have no reliance on humans directly or indirectly for food or shelter, but rather hunt and survive on their own. They are typically found in the wild…

It goes on. I will note that in speaking to this motion, I brought to the attention the 11,000-plus signatures of many in the South Australian community—handwritten signatures—tabled in this place, which, of course, then necessitates a parliamentary debate.

Those signatures were gathered largely through the resources, the stretched resources, of rescues and shelters, including Adelaide Kitten Rescue, Cats in Crisis, Cat Adoption Foundation, Ginger Ninja, Help Save the Kitties, Hisses to Purrs, Making a Difference Cat Rescue and Adoptions, Paws and Claws Adoptions Incorporated, Purrfect Paws Rescue, Rescue ME Whiskers and Paws, SA Cat Rescue, South Aussies for Animals, Tiny Tails Rescue Adelaide, Whiskers and Tails Adoptions, Wilde Cat Cottage, and more. In particular, I previously noted the work of Virginie Ducruc.

In the speech and in the petition, it was quite clear that these were semi-owned and unowned cats. They were not feral cats that we were talking about. In fact, I think you will not find that many feral cats in these rescues and shelters because, by their very nature, all of those organisations that I just read out are run by humans, not cats in the wild, so I think the opposition has the wrong end of the stick.

The Hon. N.J. Centofanti: Where do you mention the petition in the motion?

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I did mention the petition in the motion. The motion had a speech that went through it. If you read the speech—

The Hon. N.J. Centofanti: But it is about the motion.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: If you did not understand the difference between feral cats and unowned and urban stray cats then maybe you should have asked that question before you got up in this place and spoke against a very sensible idea to desex cats in response to over 11,000 people who have signed a petition, a petition sent to all of you. But, if you did not know the difference and you needed to be told by a member of the parliament, perhaps you should actually read the letter that was sent to you by the RSPCA in regard to support for this motion. That letter reads, and it was sent to all members of parliament:

Motion for government to fund desexing programs for cats—to reduce shelter intake, overpopulation and strain on shelter workers and volunteers

Thank you for considering this very urgent issue. At RSPCA we currently have over 300 cats in our care, and with two upcoming seizures and the beginning of kitten season underway—

this was October last year—

this number will rise again within weeks.

Effective cat management requires the collaborative effort of state and local government, animal welfare organisations and community volunteers, and the components of cat management plans must be adopted holistically.

Desexing is not a silver bullet to adopt in isolation of other cat management tools, but evidence from interstate shows that free desexing programs that microtarget high (cat) intake areas then conduct intensive low or no cost desexing programs in those areas—have substantially reduced cat numbers.

With most shelters and rescues currently over capacity we strongly support calls for government funding to facilitate free desexing.

Without state government assistance, nothing will change—animal shelters and volunteer cat rescues currently exceeding maximum capacity will remain closed to new intakes and the welfare of cats and of shelter workers (who have to turn cats away) will continue to spiral downwards.

Current outcomes do not meet community expectations and we must act now. We urge you to support the Motion—

being this motion that we are currently debating— to:

I. Recognise that free desexing will improve population control and improve welfare outcomes for both cats and shelter staff— Gosh, that was mentioning the shelter staff in the motion itself, wasn't it?

II. Calls on the South Australian Government to fund free desexing programs for cats to reduce shelter intake, overpopulation and strain on shelter workers and volunteers.

Perhaps next time, I will underline or bold the appropriate parts of the motion so the opposition can actually digest and comprehend the debate before them. With that, I do thank the government for their support. It has been a long time coming, but it will have a big impact, and it is most welcome by those who support these cats in rescues and shelters who are overburdened, under stress, trying to do the best they can with few resources. It will go some way, I think, to showing the government's support for them and their fine work. With that, I commend the motion, and I will be calling a division.

The PRESIDENT: I am not sure you will need to divide. You cannot divide if I call in your favour.

Motion carried

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