Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (12:13): I rise to let the chamber know that I will be the lead speaker on this bill. It is a very important bill. The Veterinary Services Bill 2023 is bringing the veterinary science and the veterinary industry into line with modern-day expectation. What we should first and foremost understand is that the Veterinary Services Bill modernises the needs of a very complex industry. The industry is there for different parts of veterinary practices—animal health, animal wellbeing—but it is also an institution that is there for the mental health of human beings and for the wellbeing of animal husbandry and the competitive nature that we as racegoers will sometimes take for granted but the industry does not.

I think it is really important that we understand the deeper impact of what the veterinary industry means to a number of sectors in mainstream society, what it means to the economy, what it means to the health and wellbeing of animals and, as I have said, the contribution that it makes to human behaviour and human companionship.

It needs to be also very well pointed out that a very important part of the industry, which I think goes under the radar, is a working animal. A working dog by most people's understanding cannot be overstated in terms of not only what they mean to the livestock industry but also how they help the agricultural sector, as well as helping people in isolated regional communities. I come from a farming family and a family that has dealt with a significant amount of isolation over a long period of time. It also comes on the back of some of the livestock sectors that rely on that working animal.

Obviously, as I have said, the livestock industry is a crucial part of this bill as is the racing industry, and I know that a number of members here will contribute. We talk about pets and pet ownership, but we also talk about the significant economy that comes from that. Let's just unpack it. We will start with a small animal vet because there are a number of sectors within veterinary science that need to be understood I think a little more. When we talk about small animal vets, we are usually referring to vets for domesticated pets, household pets.

For different reasons, people have pets, whether it is for company, whether it is as a working dog, whether it is as a guard dog or a guard animal or whether it is a hobby. We have different pets for different hobbies. I know that in a previous life I used to watch a lot of wildlife in the outback, particularly in some of the uncharted country up in the oil and gas fields, where we see animals that come out of nowhere. They come out of holes in the ground, they come out of rock pools, they come out of the water and they come out of the sky. What we have very quickly realised as a society is that different people are looking for different types of relationships or different types of exposure to animals, and it is all underpinned by a veterinary service.

You might be looking to collect pets that live in an aquarium. Whether it be a fish, whether it be a reptile or whether it be a bird, as I understand it an animal collection, animal hobby or just acquiring an everyday pet is a growing sector. What we see in most of mainstream society is that everyone loves to have a pet of some sort. The majority of people, mainstream society, look to a cat or a dog as a pet not only for company and conversation but also, as I said, for mental simulation.

Normally for most of my life we always had dogs, and mostly working dogs, but along the way we have also had household pets that have been great company for children. They are great company in terms of the fabric of a farming community, whether they are just for the family, whether they are part of the workforce within a farm or whether they are a pet that is part of what we like to think of as our family-friendly backyard.

Over time, we have seen a change in those animals. We are now seeing different breeds come into mainstream society, breeds that potentially do not shed hair, that grow to a certain size and have a very mild temperament. Those animals, I think, are now fitting a mould of inner-city suburbia, where they are prepared to cope with confined spaces. Again, they do not create a lot of the work that a lot of the thoroughbred animals do.

Anyone who has had a thoroughbred dog or cat understands the amount of moulting that they do, the amount of work that you have to put in to keep floors, furniture and the like clean in the household. We need to understand that the changes in needs, the changes in society's expectation with animals, are about the ease. It is no easy undertaking to own a pet and just go by the wayside when it comes to the attention that they need, the feeding.

They need a vet regularly, because they are just like we humans: they need care, they need their teeth fixed, they need their bones fixed, they need disease fixed and they need external intervention dealt with sometimes. I have had a number of animals that have endured snakebites. They have endured getting tangled up with some of our native animals. Many a time, I have had to pull apart dogs that have been tangled up with a kangaroo, deal with cats that are dealing with predatory birds, deal with all sorts of those interactions. At the end of the day, that normally requires a vet to come in and play a role in making sure that our animal is managed, dealt with, repaired, medicated and then gets back into the environment that we expect.

We have 900 registered vets in South Australia and, as I have said, we have a number of sectors within the veterinary industry. I have talked a little about household pets and what those small animal vets do, but we also have to understand that we have large animal vets and they also usually look after a sector. I call it livestock. The racing industry has a role to play, particularly with large animals. More times than not, it is to do with limbs. It is normally to do with making sure that we deal with some of the ailments that larger animals have.

They normally suffer issues with feet and they suffer issues with joints, but sometimes they can also need a vet to intervene when we are starting to talk breeding or when we are starting to talk the complexities of a large animal that is competing. Whether it be a thoroughbred, harness, equestrian or a trial rider, or whether it be a farm or an open paddock friend or pet, we have to make sure that veterinary intervention is there for the betterment of all of those industries.

Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. Some say it is a luxury, but I say that in many instances they are there for a very good reason. As I have said, company and companionship have a big role to play. I do not know too many pets at home that argue back. I do not know too many that give you a mouthful of lip when you have told them off or when you want them to do something that they do not want to do. I think it should be understood that humans and pets sometimes become one, and it is only when vets are called that that relationship is restored and the pet can go about its expected day-to-day life.

Obviously, what I would like to touch on is about the economy that comes from animals and pets. Households spent about $33 billion on pets only last year, and 14 per cent of that expenditure, $14.7 billion, was spent on veterinary services. The important role they play in a modern society cannot be understated. I have been to a lot of isolated communities that are dealing with pets, with small animals, that do not have veterinary services. In most instances, it is a sight that brings a tear to one's eye.

I have seen a number of times where dogs, mostly, have not received the veterinary service they needed, and those animals, sadly, in many instances, will have a slow and painful death, whether it be from mange, whether it be from a tick infestation, whether it be from a disease, whether it be from malnourishment—for all different reasons, that is when intervention by a vet is an important presence.

Along the way what we must understand is that the Veterinary Services Bill today is to improve not only the industry, not only the selection of the process to put good people into advisory services, but to make sure that those good people are there for the betterment of the industry, and that significant spend on pet ownership cannot be understated.

I do not have the numbers of the intervention by vets on some of the racing industry. I will touch on that. Nationally, it is a $9.15 billion industry here, the thoroughbred industry. On the back of that, we have the harness sector, the harness industry, as well as the equestrian and the trial sector. They are significant contributors not only to the sport but to making sure that those animals are in mainstream looked after. Some would say that in most instances these animals are treated better than their human counterparts.

As former shadow for sport, rec and racing, I witnessed over a long period of time the care that is given to all forms of the racing industry. The thoroughbred industry cannot be understated. It is a multibillion-dollar industry. The owners, the trainers, the handlers, the jockeys and the ownership groups that look after animals have to be commended for the effort, the time and the care they put into the industry.

Some of those events are overshadowed by what we see as some of the world-class racing events. I note that the most rewarded horse races in the world, the Saudi Cup and the Dubai World Cup, are significant races that, on a world stage, show what human intervention with animals does. There is an element of mainstream society that is concerned about the way those animals are cared for, but I can assure them that those animals are given the best of the best. They are given the best of the veterinary service, they are given the best of training, they are given the best of handling and care, and the environment that they live and train in cannot be understated.

Here in South Australia, even in my electorate, there are a number of training facilities. There is one at Murbko and there are a number at Angaston in the Barossa Valley. I know that the member for Schubert is keeping a very close eye on the great contribution that those facilities make into the racing industry, because they are some of the best facilities in the country. Of course, just recently we have seen the Spring Racing Carnival and we saw the $21 million The Everest run and won.

With racing here in Australia, nationally, the Melbourne Cup has always been the golden event people flock to because it has been renowned for many, many decades as the premier event in the country. Of course, the commercial intervention is always trying to take the focus off the Melbourne Cup, and I think that is what has happened at The Everest. Obviously the Golden Eagle and the Breeders' Cup are two other notable races where we see those thoroughbred horses are racing at the top of their game.

I will not go into the harness sector too much. It is a sector that is supported and buoyed by very, very passionate people, people who care for their animals like no other but, of course, there is always an element—when I say an element, I mean there are always situations that arise from the racing industry and where we have hiccups along the way. It is a little bit like when a crime is committed: the first thing we do is ring the police. Well, in the animal industry when there is an incident the first person they call is the vet. The vet is always that person who is relied on to come to the aid of an animal that is distressed, injured or sick. It cannot be understated how important the veterinary services are.

The stakeholder engagement has been a big part of this bill. Along the way, the consultation by the former Liberal government saw a significant amount of consultation between 2020 and 2021, including representation from the Australian Veterinary Association, particularly here in South Australia through their SA Division; we had input from the Law Society of South Australia; Livestock SA; the South Australian Dairyfarmers' Association; a number, or many, private veterinarians; and Sophie's legacy—Garry and Kate Putland gave great feedback; as did Helen Gibb, who is a psychologist. Yes, there are psychologists for animals. They, too, have feelings and they, too, have a mental undertaking, I guess, of having to be in a good state, and that is why those organisations were a go-to when looking to deal with the Veterinary Services Bill.

Obviously as part of the review of the Veterinary Practice Act 2003 and the Veterinary Practice Regulations 2017, in December 2022 the draft bill was prepared following stakeholder feedback. This bill is a combination of veterinarian voices from right around South Australia who came to the former government and, of course, the government and the minister of the day listened. I think what we have seen along the way are a number of amendments that have been through the other place. They were widely supported, which I think is a great show of common sense

Putting politics to one side, this is a serious conversation to be had about how we better serve the veterinary sector and also how we better serve the care of all animals, both small and large. The extensive stakeholder engagement was essentially listening to the veterinary community. It was about listening to industry and getting the maximum amount of feedback so that we could make a fully informed decision on making sure that this Veterinary Services Bill was relevant. There were ears that listened, more so than what we are doing now in this chamber, which is doing a lot of talking.

A number of amendment have been supported in the other place and I want to commend the leader in the upper house, a former vet herself, for her good work. I think she has put a significant amount of work into this bill, making sure that she represents an industry she had charter of within her working life for somewhere between 10 and 12 years. They are the credentials that I stand with here today with the brief I have taken from her—the consultation she had with industry that we as a loyal opposition are putting to the government of the day.

One of the most important amendments concerns the tribunal's constitution and ensuring it is in line with other professions, subject to review by the tribunal. The South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013 stipulates that the tribunal should have no more than three assessors; however, the current bill stipulates that only one member be a registered veterinarian. I am very pleased that the government has presented an amendment. I think when we take that to committee it is something that will complement the current bill before us so we are doing everything we can to make sure that the Veterinary Services Bill is the best that it can possibly be in the current day situation.

It makes practical veterinary experience just one-third and I am hoping that this amendment will override that. We need to understand that, when disciplinary action is necessary, one member does not provide the knowledge required for such a complex industry. The amendment suggests increasing to a panel of two members, and this position is supported across the industry and was widely supported in the other place by the opposition and the crossbench. I thank the government for their bipartisan approach to what is such an important bill.

I want to touch on another couple of sectors within the livestock sector that I think are very important and where vets play a significant role. AI is probably one of the great modern-day technologies within livestock, whether it be in the racing industry, whether it be in bloodline breeding or whether it be in the dairy industry. I am sure the member for Finniss has been up to his elbows in it at certain times as have I. One of my lasting memories as a young fellow was helping my grandfather out by having to put on the long glove and making sure that things—

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