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Select Committees Redundant

Customs Minister Rick Barker and Local Government Minister Chris Carter seem to think that the parliamentary process is simply for show, said Don Nicolson, a board member of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

In a surprise move late last night, Mr Barker said he intended to introduce a $20 million border security tax tacked on to the Border Security Bill. The sneaky new tax was announced nearly two months after a select committee had finished hearing the views of parties affected by the Bill.

"Now Mr Carter has said he plans to impose the cost of a nationwide micro chipping scheme on dog owners and councils, even though the select committee considering the Dog Control Amendment Bill recommends against universal micro chipping," Mr Nicolson said

The local government and environment committee said micro chipping -- implanting a microchip under the skin of dogs -- should be limited to dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs, and dogs returned to their owners after being impounded.

But the government ignored that recommendation and said that micro chipping had to be applied to all dogs.

"Mr Carter talks about the chip costing between $12 and $20. But what about other costs? For example, every owner will be forced to pay someone to insert the chip in dogs born from 2006. This might be done by dog control officers or vets. For vets, the cost has been estimated by the NZ Veterinary Association at $50 to $110 a dog," Mr Nicolson said

On top of that, throughout New Zealand every dog control officer must invest in electronic scanners. A new national database will be run in tandem with records kept by local authorities. Only honest people who register their dogs will end up paying for databases run in tandem, Mr Nicolson said.

"What problem is Mr Carter trying to solve? Micro chipping is not going to stop dog attacks," he said.

"One of the biggest problems for councils trying to implement dog control legislation is getting people to register their dogs. Increasing the costs of owning a registered dog will do nothing to encourage registration.

"Compulsory micro chipping will infuriate farm dog owners, impose more cost on responsible dog owners, and increase the number of unregistered dogs," said Mr Nicolson

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