The Animal Welfare and Trespass Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 (WA) (the Bill) was introduced into the WA Legislative Assembly on 24 June 2020 by Mr J.R. Quigley, the Attorney General and Minister for Commerce. The key purposes of this Bill are amending the Animal Welfare Act 2002 to make provision for designated inspectors, and amending the Criminal Code (WA) and the Restraining Orders Act 1997 to make provisions relating to trespass on places where "animal source food production" is carried out. Since its introduction the Bill has passed through the Legislative Assembly with amendments, and has reached second reading stage in the Legislative Council.
Prior to its introduction a draft Bill was circulated for community feedback in February 2020, seeking submissions on the proposed farm trespass and animal welfare legislation.
According to the second reading speech, the Bill has been prepared in response to incidents in 2019 where individuals trespassed on agricultural land for the purpose of drawing public attention to animal husbandry practices opposed by them. This Bill is described as responding to a number of incidents occurring nationally and across WA where people have trespassed on land used for commercial animal food production, and interfered with those businesses, purportedly to draw attention to inhumane animal husbandry practices. The Minister states in his speech:
The reforms proposed by the Bill amend three separate Acts, namely the:
Currently the Animal Welfare Act 2002 only permits inspectors to enter a food production place either by consent or where the inspector reasonably suspects that an offence has been, is being, or is likely to be committed, and does not allow for the monitoring of compliance with animal welfare. The amendments proposed by the Bill will give designated inspectors a general right of inspection at intensive food production facilities.
According to the Minister the currently existing powers are "inadequate to meet the community’s expectations", namely that the appropriate authorities have, and exercise, the necessary powers to monitor for compliance with welfare standards in animal source food production.
The Bill's "powers of entry" provisions are limited to designated inspectors employed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and may be exercised only when monitoring activities in abattoirs, knackeries and intensive production places.
An “intensive production place” is defined to mean a non-residential place where intensive production is carried out and ensure that the powers of a designated inspector do not extend to a residence. Limiting the powers of entry to intensive production places, abattoirs and knackeries ensures that inspectors are targeted towards higher risk production methods.
The proposed amendments to the Criminal Code (WA) and the Restraining Orders Act 1997 are aimed at deterring trespass on land used for animal source food production and slaughter.
The Bill proposes increases to the applicable criminal penalties and increases accessibility to misconduct restraining orders in specific circumstances. The current maximum penalty for trespass under section 70A of the Criminal Code (WA) is imprisonment for 12 months and a fine of $12 000. The Bill amends the Criminal Code (WA) to provide for the circumstances of an "aggravated offence". The offence occurs in the course of, or as a result of the trespass, on an animal source food production place where an offender interferes with, or intends to interfere with, animal-source food production; or assaults, intimidates or harasses, or intends to assault, intimidate or harass, a person in the context of their engagement in animal-source food production or a family member of the person.
Note, the offence must be committed in circumstances of "aggravation" and a key element of the "aggravated offence" is that the trespass occurred on an "animal-source food production place" which is defined to mean an abattoir, a knackery or an animal-source food production facility, and is intended to capture traditional family animal farms, piggeries, poultry barns, feedlots, abattoirs and knackeries.
The Bill also seeks to increase the criminal penalties applying to offences. It also improves the availability of misconduct restraining orders in specific circumstances. The proposed maximum penalty for the new offence of "aggravated trespass" is two years' imprisonment and a fine of $24,000 being double the usual maximum penalty for trespass to reflect the seriousness of the conduct.
The Minister for Commerce, John Quigley has stated in a media release that:
The Minister for Regional Development; Agriculture and Food, Alannah MacTiernan has commented that:
The WA State Opposition has repeatedly called on the government to present two separate bills, namely; one for the immediate protection of farmers and a separate animal welfare bill. The leader of the Nationals (WA) has criticised the Bill stating in a press release that:
As already stated the Bill has been amended in the Assembly and currently awaits further debate in the Legislative Council.
TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.
Animal Welfare and Trespass Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 (196 of 2020) [WA], explanatory materials and 2nd reading speech as reported in the
TimeBase LawOne Service.
FREE legislation news, delivered weekly.
Sign up now.#WeLoveLegislation Tweets
NEW information resources - great for training.