21 December, 2023
Relief after TRC abandons local laws changes
ANIMAL owners were breathing a sigh of relief last week when Tablelands Regional Council agreed not to make any changes to its local laws governing the keeping and breeding of animals including stock.
The proposed changes lit a fuse under animal owners throughout the local government area, many of whom live on rural residential properties and keep a small number of animals such as horses, goats and alpacas.
Under the changes, landowners would not have been able to keep stock on lots under 4000sq m, permits would have been required for stock on 4000-20,000sq m and only one animal would have been allowed for each 4000sq m.
The laws also would have banned the keeping of three or more dogs on lots less than 4000 sq m.
A flood of objections flowed into TRC during the consultation phase, with 97% of all submissions against the changes.
Council officers last week presented the council with a comprehensive report on the consultation and recommended that no changes be made to most of the local laws, apart from still wanting to introduce a permit system for those keeping stock on lots of under 8000sq m and including a definition of what an urban area was, but even that did not get through the vote.
Mayor Rod Marti summed the situation up, saying “we have over-reacted and completely over-shot the mark”.
“There’s been an over-reach and over reaction to these complaints (about animals) – the community is telling us we’ve got it wrong,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Kevin Cardew was a lone voice in supporting the introduction of permits and wanted the urban definition included, but his argument fell on deaf ears as all councillors, including Cr Dave Bilney who moved the officers’ recommendation in the first place, voted against it.
Before council voted on the matter, property owner Louise Terzi was able to give a final plea that the changes be abandoned.
“You guys have really upset the community – we are not happy at all,” she told them.
“As a rural residential landowner myself who keeps horses on my property from time to time, along with others in our community, this is going to have detrimental effects, outrageous effects on this community.
“We are a rural residential area – we have a huge farming background, pony clubs, show jumping, rodeos, little hobby farms where children go to pat alpacas on two acres of land – we’re not going to be able to do that if these changes to the laws go through.
“I have spoken to hundreds and hundreds of people about this and as you can see, you had eight people in the entire Tablelands community who want these changes versus more than 400 who oppose them.”
Ms Terzi said changing the laws would be unfair for those people who purchased their properties on the basis that they could keep animals or have a small hobby farm.
“If we are going to restrict land sizes for animals and bring in a permit process, it’s not fair to the people who have purchased their land to be able to do those things,” she said.
“We don’t think a whole local law should be changed for a small handful of people who are complaining,” adding that she believed many of the complaints were “malicious and false”.
“We are strongly opposed to the permits because you’re now going to be asking local laws officers to be putting out permits for animals that have been living there for all of their lives. It will be another burden on your local law officers,” she said.
Ms Terzi argued that animals also did not require an acre each, saying it depended on the type of animal, and how animals are stabled and fed. She has sought advice from farming organisations and the CSIRO and said they did not require a specific land size to keep an animal.
She concluded by asking councillors to just leave the laws as they are.
“The whole community is against these changes. If you’re going to listen to the community and do what’s best for this community, don’t make any changes, leave it as it stands,” she said.