The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK
[6.36 p.m.]: I commend the Premier for his $7.5 million pre-election pledge to upgrade animal shelters in this State. It is a tragic fact that each year thousands of cats and dogs, kittens and puppies are abandoned, and too often we hear about the old, rundown, leaking facilities in which those animals are housed. Shelter staff, who are mainly volunteers, do a great job caring for and rehousing as many animals as they possibly can. I applaud their work. However, I am seriously concerned about how the Government funding will be administered. Many animal shelters are run by the RSPCA. Indeed, I am aware that since about 2008 the RSPCA's New South Wales branch has been lobbying the State Government for funding to help repair its Sydney shelter so that it can keep the doors open. However, this same organisation that cries poor and says that it cannot fund upgrades to crucial infrastructure can fund anti-hunting campaigns to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even though RSPCA volunteers do some great things for animal welfare, I believe they have been betrayed by their so-called leaders.
I will provide just one example of that betrayal. Earlier this year the RSPCA took out a full-page, full-colour metropolitan newspaper advertisement demanding that duck hunting be banned in Victoria. Why is the New South Wales branch of the RSPCA getting involved in cross-border politics? We all know that advertisements like that cost more than $20,000. Would that type of money buy a lot of food and other supplies for unwanted cats and dogs? Of course it would. However, it seems that those animals' needs no longer matter to ideologically driven officials. Unfortunately, those same officials are the ones who ultimately hold the purse strings and decide where money should go.
I also refer members to the RSPCA's campaign to disrupt the Game Council trial using dogs to hunt feral pigs. I understand the trial in three State forests in the New England area last month was very successful. It involved experienced, licensed hunters holding a New South Wales restricted game hunting licence endorsed for dogs. The RSPCA says it accepts the need to control introduced animals such as feral pigs but then takes a stand against the Game Council for doing just that. Let us be fair dinkum here. The RSPCA tends to back most stands taken by The Greens, who—surprise, surprise—also came out against the trial. My memo to the RSPCA is: The Greens do not have a mortgage on good ideas and are not in charge of everything. Just because they oppose something does not make it wrong. The RSPCA should take the blinkers off and look at the real world.
The Shooters and Fishers Party supports the excellent work being done by animal welfare volunteers within shelters throughout New South Wales. However, we do not support taxpayers' money being redirected from needy shelters and core activities to fanatical anti-hunting and animal rights campaigns. Those campaigns are being funded at the expense of animals that are in need of food, bedding and modern, safe shelters. In announcing his funding commitment in March the Premier said the money would allow the RSPCA to build a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital, an education centre, a community pet friendly park, animal shelter and rehabilitation facility with housing for 800 dogs and cats, pocket pets, rabbits and livestock, and a processing and holding facility for animals involved in inspector cases. I call on the Government to guarantee that there will be careful monitoring of how the $7.5 million is spent. Indeed, I trust that the Premier, who is a patron of the RSPCA, will ensure every cent of that funding goes to animal shelters and to animals in need, as he outlined in his pre-election announcement, and not to the activities I have just outlined.
Question—That this House do now adjourn—put and resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
The House adjourned at 6.41 p.m. until Tuesday 10 May 2011 at 11.00 a.m.