WODONGA councillors voted 4-2 on Monday night to stop municipal land being hired to circuses with exotic animals.
Mayor Anna Speedie, Kat Bennett, Danny Lowe and Libby Hall approved the step, while John Watson and Ron Mildren disagreed.
Councillor Tim Quilty is on leave, campaigning for an upper house seat in the Victorian election.
The successful motion, from Cr Lowe, recommended “that council-owned land not be available for hire by circuses and carnivals that involve the performance and display of exotic animals”.
Cr Bennett and Cr Lowe said they had feedback that “overwhelmingly” backed a ban.
“This is about acknowledging that there are people within our community who don’t want to see their council endorsing the use of exotic animals in circuses,” Cr Bennett said.
Cr Mildren said the wording of the recommendation affected animal shows beyond circuses.
“By use of the term ‘carnivals’ it brings in anything that relates to it, like rodeos, the whole shebang,” Cr Mildren said.
He added the tag “exotic animals” applied to any non-natives, so cat or chook shows could be affected.
“Circuses have lots of other animals as well that aren’t Australian, are we going to take all that out as well?” Cr Mildren asked.
Cr Speedie responded to Cr Mildren by suggesting a formal policy would clarify details.
“I think we can alleviate a lot of the issues raised by Cr Mildren through the policy, so through some definitions in our policy – be really clear about what we’re defining as exotic animals but also as circuses and carnivals,” Cr Speedie said.
“I think that we can actually be very prescriptive in that.”
Cr Speedie told The Border Mail after the meeting that she expected such a policy would be voted upon by councillors, rather be adopted at officer level.
Cr Watson said while circuses with exotic animals were “on the way out” it was not the role of council to ban them.
“I don’t think that we as a council should stop (them), as long as they follow all permits and all regulations required,” he said.
Cr Hall said it was apparent to her that there was a particular distaste among young people for circuses with exotic fauna.
Cr Bennett said an online petition calling for action by the city had attracted nearly 12,000 signatures and she had been personally contacted by 75 people.
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