Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (14:13): I am very pleased to stand up to speak to the Wildlife Rescue Victoria Bill 2020. Again, it is a crossbench bill that is borne out of the passion of the person who brought it to the house. This is a bill that really exemplifies why Mr Meddick is in this place today. It is the reason why he was elected by his supporters, and I am very pleased to support this bill.
As we have heard, amongst other things it coordinates wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and relief as part of Victoria’s emergency response, and I will get to that in a minute; it removes public confusion and uncertainty about what to do to help wildlife in an emergency circumstance, and I will get to that later; and of course it improves governance and transparency in relation to the care, protection, rehabilitation and release of wildlife.
Now, as someone who owns a wildlife reserve and has done for nearly two decades I feel very passionate about protecting wildlife, and as someone who also had a wildfire, a bushfire, go through that reserve I understand the devastation that a fire can bring to our wildlife, to our native fauna. It is devastating and it is horrific, and this bill will assist us in providing appropriate care in those circumstances. It will enable those volunteers to be well trained and to understand the best ways to assist at that time of emergency.
And I think I would just like to possibly put Ms Lovell’s mind at ease and Mrs McArthur’s mind at ease that this bill does not affect members of the community who want to help animals. It does not affect neighbours, friends, relatives and good Samaritans who want to help wildlife. It only affects volunteers deployed under the emergency services act as wildlife rescue volunteers. So that is what the bill does. It is about the volunteers that are deployed under the emergency services act as wildlife rescue volunteers. It ensures that when they enter a danger zone they do so safely. It ensures that the volunteers who want to help animals in those emergency situations know what they are doing, but it keeps any legislative hands off good Samaritans, friends and neighbours performing those spontaneous acts of care and kindness to animals in need. It fills, I think, a necessary part of—
Ms Lovell: Where is that in the bill?
Ms PATTEN: If you read the whole bill, Ms Lovell, I think from the beginning this bill is really specifically directed at emergency—
Ms Lovell: It just says volunteer; it does not define volunteer.
Ms PATTEN: The bill is about volunteers in circumstances of emergency. It is about volunteers deployed under the emergency services act.
Ms Lovell: Isn’t a wombat by the side of the road an emergency?
Ms PATTEN: I just yet again clarify for Ms Lovell that this is about volunteers deployed under the emergency services act. This is not about someone seeing an animal that needs assistance on the side of the road. This is sensible and practical, and it is confined legislation. It is for a very specific task, and it will make a difference to that wildlife. So I am very pleased to support this bill, and I commend it to the house.