RSPCA inquiry report delayed until May

31 Mar, 2016 01:00 AM
The parliamentary inquiry committee including Nationals MLC Paul Brown and Liberal MLC Nigel Hallett, chairman Robert Mazza, Labor MP Sally Talbot and Greens MP Lynn MacLaren will have until May 19 to table a report on the RSCPA WA.
The parliamentary inquiry committee including Nationals MLC Paul Brown and Liberal MLC Nigel Hallett, chairman Robert Mazza, Labor MP Sally Talbot and Greens MP Lynn MacLaren will have until May 19 to table a report on the RSCPA WA.

THE WA Legislative Council has been given six extra weeks to report on its controversial inquiry into the RSPCA, despite Labor and Greens MPs objecting to the extension.

Shooters and Fishers Party MP Rick Mazza asked that the committee be given extra time to conclude its deliberations and provide a report, citing a heavy workload for the inquiry and new submissions to be considered.

While the extension was approved, Labor MP Sally Talbot and Greens MP Lynn MacLaren said the inquiry had been given ample time to deliberate.

Ms Talbot told parliament she believed the inquiry should not be allowed to "drag on".

"It will be a very sad day if Parliament appears to be contributing, by granting this extension, to an attempt to undermine the integrity of an organisation like the RSPCA by allowing this inquiry to drag on," Ms Talbot told Parliament.

"I am putting the proposition that no further extension should be granted, and this House has done everything it could reasonably be expected to do to give the committee time to complete its deliberations."

Mr Mazza argued it would have been unprecedented to cut off a committee inquiry before its completion.

After debate and several interjections, government MPs voted in support of the motion to extend the inquiry until mid-May.

It was due to conclude in December last year.

The inquiry has put RSPCA operations and governance under the microscope, following concerns that the organisation was drifting from its core functions into wholesale opposition to live exports.

The parliamentary inquiry committee, which includes Ms Talbot and Ms MacLaren, Nationals MLC Paul Brown and Liberal MLC Nigel Hallett and chairman Mr Mazza, will have until May 19 to consider all its evidence before tabling a report.

The committee said it requested the short extension to look over "relevant matters, to comply with the Legislative Council Standing Orders and principles of natural justice prior to tabling its report, and to properly discharge its reporting obligations to the Legislative Council".

The committee said it had received further evidence it needed to consider.

"Since its establishment, the committee has sought and received submissions and further evidence, and conducted a number of hearings throughout the inquiry," the committee said.

"Written evidence was received as late as this week.

"The committee has held frequent meetings to progress the inquiry and its consideration of the draft report."

Mr Mazza told Farm Weekly that extensions "were common practice".

"Committees have extensions, generally that's an unremarkable thing,'' Mr Mazza said.

"There may be one or two extensions depending on the workload.

"We have had a large workload on this one."

RSPCA WA has expressed its disappointment with the parliamentary inquiry being extended until May.

President Lynne Bradshaw said the RSPCA WA had previously expressed its concerns about the significant impost on the society's resources, because of the inquiry and said that impost would now continue for a further six weeks.

"RSPCA WA emphasises that throughout the inquiry it has clearly stated that it does not believe the select committee inquiry is justified," Ms Bradshaw said.

"Nevertheless, it has assisted the select committee in the interests of transparency and accountability.

"RSPCA WA is very disappointed with the inquiry being extended, for a second time, to May 19, 2016."

Ms Bradshaw said the RSPCA WA didn't believe the committee had more to investigate.

"This is because it has been told by the chairman that the committee will not be seeking further evidence during the extension," she said.

"The chairman indicated to RSPCA WA that one purpose of the extension was to ensure RSPCA WA is accorded procedural fairness.

"RSPCA WA has requested this since its initial submission dated July 1, 2015.

Farm Weekly understands that the committee is currently seeking further information from the RSPCA WA and was willing to give the inquiry natural justice prior to tabling its report.



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