Over recent months governments have proposed a range of laws to target activists who seek to expose animal cruelty and educate the public. These laws have been proposed by the federal government as well as at the state level by several state governments.
Please note that none of the information on this page is internded as legal advice and is for information purposes only. We recommend doing your own research and to obtain your own independent legal advice for specific matters.
Agriculture and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 (Queensland)
On 22 August 2019, Hon Mark Furner, Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, introduced the Agriculture and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019.
The parliamentary SDNRAIDC committee recommended on 8th October that this Bill be passed, but did note that the government should increase transparency around animal cruelty offences committed, and work with the Federal government on better animal welfare policy - these important recommendations were based on the points raised by Animal Liberation Qld and other animal protection groups. Read more here.
ALQ Executive Director Chay Neal told the hearing: “These proposed laws seek to stifle animal rights activists that seek to show the public the truth. These laws do absolutely nothing to address the widespread animal cruelty to farmed animals.”
This Bill has was passed with amendments, on 6 February 2020 and has come into effect from 1 March 2020. (See the Bill here)
What do these amendments do that activists and investigators should be aware of? These new laws:
- increase scope and penalties of up to 1 year in jail for "unlawfully entering or remaining on designated land" [designated land includes land used for (a)an agricultural activity; or (b)an animal husbandry activity (including breeding, dairy, feedlot, piggery, salyward, aquaculture, poultry farming, animal testing); or (c)a holding facility (including a pound, live export holding, showground, stock route, abattoir; or(d)a food production facility, including, for example, a facility that produces food for animal consumption; or (e)the exhibition of animals (including at a private event).],
- fines of over $60,000 for failure to comply with biosecurity obligations under a biosecurity management plan (or even higher fines for aggravated offences),
- increase scope of unlawful assembly to include designated places and additional offences.
Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019 (Federal)
The Australian government recently introduced legislation which seeks to target anyone deemed to be "inciting trespass" through the use of a "carriage service". The concern is that these laws are designed to criminalise the publication of animal cruelty that we believe the public has a right to know. The Bill also seeks to target the Aussie Farms website and "the map".
You can read our submission here.
You can find out more and track the status of this Bill on the Federal Government website here.
This Bill has now passed the House and the Senate (with support of both Labor and LNP) and came into effect from 20 September 2019.
You can read more as well as Aussie Farms' submission on this Bill here.
Criminal Code (Trespass Offences) Amendment Bill 2019 (Queensland)
On 1 May 2019, Mr Dale Last MP (LNP), Member for Burdekin, introduced a private members bill titled Criminal Code (Trespass Offences) Amendment Bill 2019.
ALQ made a submission on this Bill which you can read here. Our submission makes the case as to why these laws are over the top and not proportionate to existing laws for other offences. It is also outlines the importance of investigators and whistleblowers for exposing animal cruelty in the public interest. The majority of Australians are concerned about animal welfare and want reform.
You can see the full details, read submissions and more on the Queensland government LACS Committee website here.
Bills and inquiries in other states
- WA - WA's Farm Trespass and Animal Welfare Bill consultation closed on 30 March 2020.
The proposed Bill gives some additional powers to inspectors for intensive farms, but these additional powers are limited. The Bill also proposes mandatory minimum penalty for farm trespass at $2400 as well as community service with increased maximum penalty to $12,000 (or more for 'aggravated' offences). The Bill also proposed restraining orders be able to be targeted at activists. ALQ made a submission and we will be watching for further updates here.
- Victoria - Inquiry Into the Impact of Animal Rights Activism on Victorian Agriculture
- NSW - NSW Biosecurity Laws Targeting Activists