The recent floods in northern New South Wales have been discussed at length in this place, and for good reason. These floods have been devastating for communities, devastating for people and devastating for animals. One call that I got during those floods was from the Animal Welfare League [AWL] to let me know that its vet truck had been deployed to Lismore. Apparently the local police station had called the Animal Welfare League because every vet service in Lismore was completely underwater. What that meant for the people in Lismore is that, if they had animals that had been injured during the floods or even if they had lost companion animals and people had found companion animals, they could not even scan the microchips for those animals because the scanners were underwater inside the veterinary practices.
They desperately needed the mobile vet truck to head out to Lismore to help reunite animals with their owners and to treat animals that had been injured in the floods. But what I was really shocked about is that it is the only mobile vet truck in New South Wales and the truck had been funded privately. Not one cent of government funding had gone into building the truck. This truck also helps in regional and rural areas where we know there are major vet shortages. We have heard in this place about animals inside pounds that have been shot instead of euthanised with barbiturate overdose because there are simply not enough vets to go into some regional areas. While the truck is used for emergency situations like the recent floods, when it is not being used in emergency situations it is still being used for regional and rural areas where there are major vet shortages.
As we heard on Monday during the inquiry into the enforcement of animal cruelty laws in New South Wales there is virtually no funding into animal protection in New South Wales. The vet truck is really just another example of that. A private charity developed and funded the solutions to animal emergencies and animal protection. That attitude really has to change. The funding of animal protection should be a top priority for this Government. We have spoken at length in this place about the strong bond people have with companion animals and with other animals they live with, but failing to adequately fund and support animal protection initiatives such as this has been a major oversight of this Government—one that I hope we can change going forward. That is simply what this motion does. It calls on the Government to recognise the huge need for projects like mobile vet trucks, to recognise the success of the work that has been done by the Animal Welfare League and to provide the funding necessary to expand this service so that it can be run at a proper capacity.
We have heard from the Animal Welfare League that it has one truck. The AWL estimates that there probably needs to be three vet trucks to cover New South Wales for State emergencies and also for rural and regional work. This is not something that should be fundraised by the public. It is not something we should be fundraising from the public to build. It is not something we should be fundraising from the public in order to continue to run the service. The protection of animals and animal emergency plans are government responsibilities. The Government has the opportunity to fund some amazing work. It will go very far to not just helping animals but also helping communities. A lot of the mental stress that comes from these situations is from having to deal with and see what happens to animals. It will help people and animals in collaboration. I have no idea why somebody would not fund a project like this one. I encourage all members to support the motion.
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