In an unexpected development, on 25 August the NSW Legislative Council (Upper House) passed an amendment during a debate on strata laws which would prevent strata schemes from passing by-laws that ‘unreasonably prevent owners and occupiers from having companion animals’.
The motion was moved by the Animal Justice Party and was passed with the support of Labor, the Greens, Christian Democratic Party and the Shooters, Fishers & Farmers Party despite opposition from the government.
The opposing views were laid bare in debate over the amendment. The bill was introduced by AJP MP Emma Hurst who stated “I understand what people say about democracy, but this is about people’s rights to keep a pet, who they often regard as their family, in their home. People shouldn’t have to choose between their home and their pet. Animals are sentient beings and deserve a safe place to live with their human families.”
Liberal MP Ben Franklin in opposing the motion stated “The NSW Government acknowledges that pets are an important part of many families and households however, the proposed amendment includes no factors that must be considered for a ‘no pets’ by-law to be reasonable. The proposed amendment fails to consider legitimate factors in an owners corporation’s consideration about pets, such as that the owners corporation has unanimously decided to prohibit the keeping of animals; that the property generally may not be suitable for the keeping of any animal; that there is risk of damage to common property that an animal may cause; and that an animal may cause nuisance to other lot owners.”
The amendment however must still pass the Legislative Assembly (Lower House) where the government holds a majority, so its passage is far from assured.