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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

GLEN BENNETT (Labour—New Plymouth): Kia ora, Mr Chair, thank you very much, and I want to thank Ricardo Menéndez March for continuing to champion this piece of legislation, which, obviously, Mojo Mathers had—you took it on yourself to pick it up and run with it, and then to have it drawn out of the ballot is no easy feat.

I’m glad to be standing here in support of the Human Rights (Disability Assist Dogs Non-discrimination) Amendment Bill, and talking here, obviously, around clause 4. I’m standing here in the House this morning with my poppy on, and it got me thinking about how big a role animals play in our lives. I remember back in 2014 and the commemorations for 100 years of the war to end all wars—World War I—and around the horses that went to war that never came back. In human history, obviously, animals—and particularly dogs, in this instance—serve us so well and are definitely our companions, our best friends, but also workhorses, or dog workers—however that is.

But I just want to come back to the Supplementary Order Paper, and I know it probably was a slip of the tongue, but I don’t think we’re being trivial at all this morning. I think we are actually leaning into this, and just wanting to get a sense. And if anything is trivial, I guess—I mean, I would like to hear from Penny Simmonds this morning to hear, if this isn’t a trivial addition, why it was only added on 7 April this year in terms of the fact that this was nothing that was discussed in select committee that we’re a part of.

At the moment, with those eight organisations, under the Dog Control Act of 1996, that are able to train, I think, at the moment, that is appropriate, and I guess, in terms of Ricardo Menéndez March, just wanting to hear a bit from you around whether you have engaged with some of those organisations to hear from them, in terms of it continuing to be just under that Dog Control Act of 1996, because I really feel that once we start getting into private trainers, there is risk. I guess as I looked at the select committee and then also I remember in the second reading really looking into these different eight organisations and the different roles they play and how, like my colleague and the chair of the Social Services and Community Committee, Angie Warren-Clark, said, there’s a role we as communities play to serve these organisations in terms of training, in terms of developing not pets but actually enablers for people with disability, for people who are looking for a disability assist dog.

So, yeah, I guess that is my question, really, in terms of your engagement with these organisations, in terms of what their reflections were: was there any openness to having private trainers coming into this space, because I think it is important to not trivialise this but to ensure that we get it right? The other part of it, I think, as I was looking back on some of those submitters, one of the questions was around if we bring this into the legislation—which actually baffled me—it might bring more dogs into public places. I thought, “Why is that a problem?” But I guess in talking with these disability assist trainers, they probably have really good perspectives on that, so I’d like to ask the member in terms of, I guess, any reflections and feedback on that, on those eight organisations: have you spoken to them? I guess your feedback would be appreciated.