12 March 1991 - Current
IMPOUNDING OF LIVESTOCK BILL Second reading Mr MACLELLAN (Minister for Planning) -- I move: That this bill be now read a second time. INTRODUCTION Legislation dealing with the impounding of wandering livestock requires a major overhaul. The current law is confusing. The main piece of legislation, the Pounds Act 1958, is archaic and it is unclear how it operates in relation to other legislation which also deals with impounding. Legislation dealing with one person's right to deal with another's property must set out rights and obligations clearly, and this is currently not the case. The Impounding of Livestock Bill will provide in the one act for the impounding of livestock found wandering on any land or roads across the state and for the first time clearly set out who is authorised to impound and their rights and obligations. The bill will also give landowners more flexibility in how they deal with wandering stock and at the same time impose new duties of care on them and on councils. DEVELOPMENT AND CONSULTATION There has been wide consultation on this bill. Eighteen months ago a working party was set up with representatives from the Victorian Farmers Federation, the Municipal Association of Victoria and relevant government departments. The working party developed two discussion papers which were circulated to all councils and members of the Victorian Farmers Federation. There has also been extensive consultation with other interested groups. This consultation is important because the bill represents a balancing of the interests of different groups, in particular the interests of councils, landowners and livestock owners. KEY FEATURES I shall now briefly turn to the key features of the bill. Clause 5 establishes who is authorised to impound wandering livestock and in what circumstances.
Only persons specifically authorised under this bill will be permitted to impound, and these persons are authorised officers of councils, owners and occupiers of land (including Crown land), officers of the Roads Corporation and authorised officers in relation to Crown land. Importantly, there is no obligation upon a person to impound. This is the present situation under the Pounds Act 1958, but there was considerable debate about whether a new obligation should be placed on councils to take responsibility for wandering stock. Naturally councils were reluctant to assume a new obligation that could lead to increased costs. More importantly, however, the current arrangements in this regard seem to work well in practice while the greater clarity in landowners' obligations should further assist neighbours to resolve matters between themselves. Clauses 6 to 16 set out the rights and obligations required of those who impound wandering stock. Councils will have additional obligations to others. They will be required to take reasonable steps to find out who owns the livestock and give written notice of the impoundment to the owner. The notice will also inform the owner of his or her rights. Part 3 of the bill spells out the rights of councils to dispose of impounded livestock and how the proceeds of any sale are to be applied. In most cases councils will be required to hold impounded livestock for at least seven days before they can be sold or destroyed. However, where stock are in very poor condition and the cost of keeping them would exceed their value, council officers will generally be able to destroy them after 48 hours on the written order of an inspector of stock. After much deliberation it was recommended by the working party that only persons currently authorised under other legislation should have the power to destroy injured, distressed or diseased animals. REPEALS AND AMENDMENTS TO OTHER ACTS Finally, part 7 of the bill deals with the rationalisation of the existing legislation. It repeals the Pounds Act 1958 and amends those acts dealing with impounding of livestock on Crown land. I commend the bill to the house. Debate adjourned on motion of Mr LEIGHTON (Preston). Debate adjourned until Thursday, 24 November.