Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Poo Park Council Event Sunday

Please help us raise awareness. Pittwater Council have generously accommodated us at Dog Day by the Bay - Sunday 28th September from 10am - 3pm,

Thanks to members who are helping out, but we need a few more please. Email if you can help at our stall. Held at Rowland Reserve, Bayview (known as poo park). Poo Park is an excellent example of why having one-only swimming area for the 15,000 local dogs is a really bad policy decision.

Barking Mad, in alignment with the State Plan, the Local Government Act, and the Federal Greenhouse Strategy requires at least 40% of beach areas to be dog-friendly.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Dissenting View and (not) endangered species

I received a very interesting response in regards to the previous post. I am always grateful to people who take the time to write their dissenting view, and even more so when they do it politely and with facts.

First, I must clarify that our assembly at Long Reef Beach in May 2007 said nothing about that area becoming a dog-friendly beach. It was about the requirement of council to provide equitable access to resources for all their residents. The beach is a resource and 40% of Warringah residents have dogs.

Secondly, as I researched the dissenting view offered to, I found errors of fact. Had it been based in fact, it would most certainly been something that we would have to consider and accommodate. HOWEVER, I am willing to be shown that I am in error, and that's why Barking Mad, as a professional lobby association, welcomes those with a dissenting view. Our only requirement is that you can argue your point without arguing people out of a room! But please come to us with research and facts - it will help us create a safe and pet-friendly community that both pet owners/lovers and pet haters can cope with.

While we agree that you and your dog have rights, the endangered species of birds in the wildlife refuge at one end of the beach and the marine sanctuary at the other are incompatible with the rights of you and your dog.

Please be aware that birds will not nest anywhere, or will abandon existing nests, that they can detect dogs have been near. They are endangered, your dog is not.

The marine reserve is home to endangered little penguins who are also very sensitive to the presence of dogs. Already there have been attacks by dogs whose owners are sure that their dog would not do something like this. The doggy ban is there for a reason. C.C,

HERE IS MY RESPONSE AFTER RESEARCHING 'endangered little penguins'.
In my quest for facts, I have researched your assertion that “marine reserve is home to endangered little penguins” and have found it to have no basis in fact. If you can show me otherwise, I would appreciate it.

There are NO
endangered or critically endangered penguins in Australia. There are three species that are vulnerable, which does not include the little fairy. There is one colony of penguins that are an endangered population, and that is at Manly.
Thank you for taking the time to share your opinion, but I must say au contraire and ask for your qualifications. I have an environmental science background.

The doggie ban is for a reason and it’s revenue raising. Shorebird nesting areas are not related to this specific ban. Knowing your shorebirds and their nesting cycle AND their threats may lead you to a more informed response. The constitution, our federation and the High Court are there for reasons too. Think Aboriginal citizenship, Mabo, maybe even suffragists.
Barking Mad supports legislation that protects shorebird nesting areas.

Of course, dogs off leash are a threat to little penguins – but NOT during the day. Also, these are seasonal, albeit a long season, and have must greater risks than dogs.

The other reason for dog bans is that it is much EASIER to get the dog owner than the parent whose youth drinks underage, drives like an idiot, swears constantly in public, likes to graffiti things etc. How many offenses are related to litter – and we all see a LOT more non-poo litter like drink bottles and cigarette butts. How about enforcing the alcohol free zones?

Endangered? We humans are the most endangered with the senseless way we interfere instead of integrate with our surroundings. Think cars and all they have done to our world, think import/export, shipping, mining. Sorry, my dog is down on the list and she is also a 24 x 7 health care worker – maybe even to your parent at a home that you visit once a week. She visits twice a week at least, and provides respite to the under-payed aged care workers as well. The benefits rein.

And just to clarify, my dog does not have rights as she is chattel. People have rights. A lot of animal welfare people want non-human animals to have rights – there is an argument for and against it, of course.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Ultra vires, meaning: Warringah drop dog poo on our Federal Constitution

Manly Daily Article ~~ Barking Mad Media Release (delayed, went sailing & have a Newcastle event Sunday) ~~ Ultra vires definition
Wow, this is hard. How do I explain to you why this lower court judgment favouring Warringah Council is but a drop of water in a bucket, on the wrong field, on the wrong issue? (Trying not to use military analogies...). How do I explain it is yet another example of small-government-syndrome which implies a right to act independently of the principles of our federation?

How to I explain to anyone new to Barking Mad that we are not about dogs or pets, but about our access as pet-owners to a fair-share of public and living space? (Or how CUTE that photo of Pema is...)

And, how do I explain our federal Constitution? (Big sigh). Or how our signing of an international treaty, in this case the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) gives regulatory power to the Federal government OVER State government, when generally, our Constitution is prohibited from such power?
Attempt #1:
  • When a law of a State is inconsistent with a law of the Commonwealth, the latter shall prevail, and the former shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be invalid. (Section 109 Inconsistency of laws).
  • So, let's take that as an admission that this inconsistency can and does exist. When it does, it's not OK for Warringah Council to act beyond the power of their authority.
  • Because, as stated in the first point, the Commonwealth law prevails.

What is this Commonwealth law that we accuse Warringah Council of shitting upon? In addition to our implied right to political expression, we have ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which includes Article 21:

The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Well, our assembly never interfered with these conditions, nor did Warringah argue that we did. (Probably because they don't see Constitutional law applicable to their small-government-syndrome).

In summary we won. After 18 months of winning cases assisting our members in 'baby courts', we finally have one we can appeal to a jurisdiction that sets precedent. As this is a constitutional issue, we are looking at our options in the higher courts. NOW WE ARE BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE. Thank you Warringah. We are THRILLED you read our website and blog and look forward to working with you from the same side of the table.

(PS: Our newly elected Warringah Councillors will table a Notice of Motion for equitable access to off leash walking areas and beaches at the first meeting of Council in late October.)

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Dog is my witness

A dog nicknamed Scooby has become the first animal in the world to appear as a witness in a murder trial. The animal is believed to have been with his 59-year-old owner when she was found hanging from the ceiling of her Paris flat. (source:, image doglaw)

Police believe it was suicide but her family demanded a murder investigation. During a preliminary hearing the pet was led into the witness box by a vet to see how it reacted to a suspect. It is said to have "barked furiously". The aim was to decide if there was sufficient evidence to launch a full murder inquiry. The judge praised the animal for his "exemplary behaviour and invaluable assistance".
This is no surprise for many of us pet owners; we know they are excellent judges of character and they don't need 400 years of legal texts to make their decision!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Beach Dog

Need some fun - too much lobbying with NSW Local Government Elections, change in NSW State Ministry, WA change of government and new Federal Opposition. LET'S GO WALKIES.

The purpose of the proposed assembly:
  • Call attention to the requirement of Newcastle Council by way of the Local Government Act to provide adequate, equitable and appropriate services to the community, and that dog-friendly beach access for 40% of ratepayers with dogs is a service that is not now being adequately provided.
  • Promote the integration of responsible dog owners in society.
  • Demonstrate the health and fitness aspects of exercising on beaches for humans and supervised dogs.
  • Call attention to the hierarchy of governance, Local Government’s lack of a Crown to govern in its own right.
  • Promote peaceful political expression as an implied right in the constitution.
  • Invite Newcastle Council to respect this constitutional right without the need to undermine it by touting council by-laws.

Assembly invitations, details and conditions here.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The 12th leader of the Liberal Party

Since Barking Mad started, our members urged us to contact Malcolm Turnbull for support. We have engaged in repeated contact with Mr. Turnbull, on the federal election, the 2020 Summit, ageing and climate change and the need for public transport and other campaigns. Despite an impromptu meeting face-to-face at Bronte with that silly dog-line, we have yet to receive any response from the man who is now the 12th elected leader of the Liberal Party. Malcolm is known amongst dog owners for his Dog Blog.

Mr. Turnbull: It is time now for you to walk your talk, as well as well as you walk your dogs. We wrote the new leader today:
Will you support federal guidelines to make public transport accessible for the 65% of Australians with pets? We have a draft policy based on the current policy in London. We have national RSPCA support.

We have contacted you numerous times since our work on the dog line, the federal election and the 2020 summit. Please, we request that you walk your talk, not just the dogs. We look forward to working with you. Pets are a health, ageing, public safety and climate change issue. Please contact Barking Mad Equity for Pet Owners.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Life as a Dog or a Lobbyist?

OK, lots of members were not aware of the NSW local government elections. Lots of folks in NSW were not aware of the WA election, or that WA is now the work-horse of our economy. Liberals, Nationals, Labor, Greens and Independents - yes, it can be a bit much when day to day life of family and meals on the table is paramount. However, as a lobbyist representing the 4 million or so responsible pet owners, in addition to our agenda of a fair-share of public space, public transport, strata, renting and holiday accommodation, this is what we've got on the agenda:
  • Change of government in WA, with the Nationals holding the balance of power. We are lobbying the Nats in the belief that they more than any other party will recognise the economic importance of the dog to our communities.
  • Change of leadership and cabinet in NSW government - so we start again with the new ministers relevant to our agenda (ageing, police, health, local government, etc.).
  • Change of leadership in the Federal Opposition - to a professed dog lover. Time to walk more than the dog! Plus, an impending change in his ministry.
  • Working with newly election Local Government councillors in about 35 councils in NSW where we have pet issues affecting members.

All this work? THAT'S WHY BARKING MAD IS OFFERING FREE BEACH-SIDE ACCOMMODATION IN EXCHANGE FOR ADMINISTRATION WORK! If you would like to spend two weeks or more in the bush next to a dog & surf beach, please contact us urgently and provide details of your admin experience and skills!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Local Gov't Election ~ NSW

Barking Mad, represented by Eedra and Pema helped residents 'vote for their families and their dogs' in four NSW local government areas from 8am - 6pm on polling day. (We have members in 59 local governments in NSW). We offered our support to the candidates who acknowledged the importance of pets to our community well being.
A very exciting thing is happening! The political parties are starting to GET:
  • that 42% of voters have dogs and 65% have pets
  • that pet-owners are a demographic that have been un-represented excepting the 'guns, dogs and 4WD' lobby of the Shooters Party
  • that the current laws are not acknowledging the importance of the pet industry that is worth $4.6 BILLION annually
  • that pets are a positive contribution to health and aged care because they are really 24 x 7 health care workers to countless aged pensioners.

Barking Mad has been working hard for about 18 months, and our lobbying is starting to pay dividends. NSW councillors (set your cynicism aside) are starting to recognise that they have a statutory obligation to provide equitable services, including services to pet-owners by way of access to community resources such as beaches, parks and public transport.

Keen citizens with a view to influence policy by getting into local government recognise how easy it is to get the support of pet owners with sensible pet policies. The NSW local government campaign combined with the sudden WA State Election has provided responsible pet owners with a PAW into policy. We are over-joyed with the recognition our policies are receiving (and our push to get NSW Local Government to behave properly as per their requirement under the Local Government Act). These are exciting times. Please, do not miss your opportunity to make a difference. Support the lobby group for responsible pet owners with your $40 membership.

DETAILS: We have done well in this NSW Election. Final results are several days away due to preferences. (Simply clicking on our advertisers will support us financially.)

Friday, 12 September 2008

NSW local government ELECTION

We have surveyed and rated as many candidates as possible. We have recommendations on HOW TO VOTE for "our families, our dogs" in the following areas:

Coffs Harbour
North Sydney

Have a look at our candidates and find out who is BEST IN SHOW, TOP DOG, IN TRAINING or JUST IN PUPPY SCHOOL.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

WA Election Update

To the WA Nationals
Congratulations – Royalties For Regions

Congratulations are due to the WA Nationals for a strong policy in Royalties for Regions and for holding this policy as a baseline for negotiations to form a government. Well done!

Barking Mad is the national lobby group for responsible pet owners. We suspect the Nationals more than any other party would recognise the importance of the dog to our way of life, our community, families, livelihood and our safety.

  • Dogs have played an important role in the welfare of our community and for companionship throughout the history of human settlement in Australia.
  • Our European history is said to be off the sheep’s’ back - a history dependant on the working dog and the Aboriginal stockman as much as it was on the European farmer.
  • Many of us know those sheep would not have been yarded without the dog; nor would the sow destroying the pastures providing feed to the cattle destined to be the city folks’ evening meal been brought down without a dog.

Both the Liberals and Labor have campaigned on a policy to increase public transport. Will this infrastructure be available to the 65% of voters with pets?

The Issue: Clean, well-behaved pets should be able to accompany their responsible owners on buses, coaches, ferries, trams and trains throughout Australia.

The Solution (London Style): You can travel with your dog or other inoffensive animal, unless there is a good reason for us to refuse it (such as if the animal seems dangerous or is likely to upset other customers).

“The RSPCA believes that dogs play an important part in the
lives of their owners and families. We would like dog owners to have the
opportunity to include their dog in activities which may involve travel on
public transport provided that the dog involved could deal with this sort of
situation and it could be managed in such as way so as to not impact on other
transport users.” RSPCA Australia

Australians have the highest rate of pet ownership in the world.
1. At least 40% of homes have a dog, a greater percentage than homes with children.
2. 20% of those homes have more than one dog.
3. The largest category of dog owner is a family with children.
4. Pet owners contribute $4.6 billion annually to the economy and this market is expanding rapidly.
5. Dogs are now more than the family pet; they are a family member.

Companion, assistance and working dogs are a positive contribution to:

  • health (walking)
  • mental health (socialisation and caring)
  • ageing (safety and socialisation)
  • safety in the home (an early warning system to intruders)
  • public safety (police statistics show people out walking reduces incidents of street crime and those with dogs are less likely to be the victim of an assault)

Barking Mad asks the Nationals to use their position to ensure that responsible pet owners are not excluded from public transport, including new infrastructure, with their pet. We look forward to a positive response.

Monday, 8 September 2008

RSPCA Australia, Dogs, Climate Change & Public Transport

We contacted Western Australia RSPCA during the State Election Campaign to gain their support for pets travelling with their responsible guardians on public transport. As Labor was running a public transport campaign, we thought we better get in and make sure the 65% of us with pets are not left out of this infrastructure plan. Read our transport briefing paper here.

Due to some quick action from the WA RSPCA office (thank you!), we have achieved support from RSPCA AUSTRALIA as follows:

"The RSPCA believes that dogs play an important part in the lives of their owners and families. We would like dog owners to have the opportunity to include their dog in activities which may involve travel on public transport provided that the dog involved could deal with this sort of situation and it could be managed in such as way so as to not impact on other transport users."

We will continue to lobby the W.A. government, along with all other governments for a national policy allowing pets to travel with their responsible owners. We watch with interest as the National leader Brendon Grylls (and his beloved three-legged dog) looks to hold the balance of power.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Going to the Loo & our Federal Government

Do you know how your federal tax dollars are being spent? Hopefully, they are not being flushed down the toilet!

While Barking Mad was doing a search for human rights lawyers (reference the story about Warringah Council acting as though they have authority to over-ride State Laws and disrupt peaceful, legal and police-sanctioned protests), we came across this choice site, just by chance.

The National Public Toilet Map, a project of the National Continence Management Strategy