Parliament halts Gosnells cat laws

Parliament halts Gosnells cat laws

Kate McDonald, left, has been providing 24-hour care to the baby Quenda, Scratch, attacked by a cat last Monday, with Darling Range Animal Shelter’s Yasmin Hunter supporting proposed changed to local cat laws that have been knocked back by the State Government.Photograph – Richard Polden.

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but Parliament has effectively killed the City of Gosnells’ proposed cat laws, with council voting to discontinue the cat amendment local law 2022.

However, the public consultation process, which will now be discontinued, will still inform the way forward as the city goes back to the drawing board.

The proposed cat laws would have seen cats prohibited from being in a public place unless under effective control, make it an offence for a cat to be on private property without the consent of the owner and limit the number of cats a person may keep to two.

Unfortunately, feedback received from the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries [DLG] has effectively killed of the first two elements of the local law.

The DLG cited previous decisions made by the Joint Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation [JSCDL], the Parliamentary committee established to review local laws.

The JSCDL has expressed the view that as the Cat Act 2011 specifies the powers of local governments over cats in public places, it is not open to local governments to extend those powers, despite other local governments such as the Shire of Mundaring having cat containment local laws in place.

In his report, director of business services Grant Bradbrook said it was almost certain the local law as written would be disallowed by Parliament.

“There would seem to be little value in progressing with a local law when there is every chance it would be disallowed by Parliament,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Adam Hort, a firm advocate for the proposed local laws, said he was surprised by the DLG’s response.

“Even their own website has cat containment and night time curfews as a potential option for local governments to pursue in their local laws if that’s what the community wants.

“It’s a really confusing message as to what we can and can’t do.

“So, we were surprised when we were informed that wasn’t going to be an option to discuss it with the local community.

“The next step is to write a proposed cat law that considers the feedback from the community from the first round of consultation, consider the feedback from the DLG about what we can and can’t do and take that out to the community for consultation in a format that we hope will be accepted by the State Government.”

The first round of consultation fielded 262 submissions, with roughly 60 per cent of submissions supporting council’s position.

Cr Hort said one thing was clear.

“There will be many people who will be disappointed that cat containment won’t be included in the next proposed law, absolutely.

“I don’t think the cat act meets community expectations and I think we’ve seen a shift as to what the community expects when it comes to responsible cat ownership.”

Mr Bradrook’s report went a step further.

“In considering its approach to dealing with cats, the fundamental objective of the proposed local law was to limit the impact cats have on native fauna.

“Essentially, under the Cat Act as it currently stands, cats are free to roam, prey on native fauna and cause a nuisance to local residents.”