Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment Bill 2022
(Second Reading Speech, 16 November 2022, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
I move: That this bill be now read a second time.
I am proud to introduce the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Prohibitions for Convicted Persons) Bill 2022 on behalf of the Animal Justice Party, a bill that will protect animals from known animal abusers. Owning or working with animals is not a universal right. Animals are vulnerable to human treatment and are at risk in the care of the wrong person. We have all heard horrible animal cruelty stories, and we expect our laws to prevent the perpetrators involved from having animals in their care again. But there are holes in existing laws that allows known abusers to continue to run or work in animal businesses or to keep animals. In introducing the bill, the Hon. Emma Hurst in the Legislative Council informed the House of real-life cases where a person committed horrific acts of cruelty, but continued to be permitted to have animals—and sometimes large numbers of animals—in their care in this State.
She told the story of a petting zoo owner who stabbed a dog with a pitchfork six times, left her for some time with the pitchfork inside her, then later hung her from a tree and bashed her head with a mallet. The man was charged with serious animal cruelty but continues to be involved in at least four zoos and petting zoos and is involved with animal acquisitions and the care of animals retired from the Stardust Circus. A man and his daughter ran a puppy farm where over 400 dogs were kept on wet concrete floors covered in faecal matter. Following conviction of 18 animal cruelty offences, they continued to run a puppy farm with over 100 dogs. A man who was convicted of animal cruelty in Victoria was banned from running a breeding business for 10 years, but now lawfully runs a puppy farm in New South Wales. A woman convicted of cruelty for violently swinging a cat around to attack a dog can lawfully keep cats. The current situation is failing to protect animals and is not meeting community expectations and standards.
This bill will stop known abusers from having animals in their care through a number of measures. It would create a presumption that a court will make a disqualification order—that is, a ban on having animals in one's care—if a person is convicted of a serious or aggravated animal cruelty offence, unless there are special circumstances. Currently, the court would have to be satisfied that the convicted person would likely commit another animal cruelty offence in the future. Prohibition orders against keeping an animal that have been issued in other States or Territories would have automatic effect in New South Wales, removing the need for existing laborious processes where the Minister has to approve the ban and serve the individual with a new order. Similarly, convictions for serious animal cruelty or bestiality offences in other States or Territories would be subject to lifetime bans on owning or working with animals in this State, as they are for convictions made here.
The bill will create a new offence if someone convicted of an animal cruelty offence breeds animals or becomes involved in a breeding business, with animal welfare enforcement officers having the power to seize animals kept in contravention to orders. Lastly, the bill will make it an offence for a person who runs a zoo, petting zoo or circus to knowingly hire someone who has been charged or convicted of an animal cruelty offence. I again congratulate the Hon. Emma Hurst and the Animal Justice Party for delivering legislative reform that will reduce animal suffering. This bill does not fix every problem with our animal cruelty laws, but it will go a long way to protecting animals from known abusers, helping us become a more humane society. I commend the bill to the House.
(Second Reading Debate, 16 November 2022, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
See debate > HERE
In reply: I thank the Minister, the member for Maitland, the member for North Shore and the member for Newtown for their contributions in support of the bill. Again, I pay tribute to and thank the Hon. Emma Hurst and her staff for the successful passage of the legislation. It is the third Animal Justice Party bill that I have had the honour and privilege of sponsoring in the Legislative Assembly. It will be the third Animal Justice Party bill to pass the Parliament. New South Wales is a safer place for animals as a result of the work of the Animal Justice Party, particularly with the passage of the bill. I thank all members for their cooperation in getting the legislation through the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly. I thank the Animal Justice Party for the great work it has done in this Parliament. I commend the bill to the House.