What does the Act do?
The Act amended both the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (POCTAA) and the Exhibited Animals Protection Act 1986 (EAPA):
POCTAA key amendments
- Persons convicted of animal cruelty offence in NSW1
- Clarifies that an animal cruelty offence under POCTAA includes offences in relation to an animal under POCTAA, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulation 2012, and serious animal cruelty offences under the Crimes Act 1900.
- Persons convicted of an animal cruelty offence (i.e. an offence in relation to an animal under POCTAA, the Regulation or the Crimes Act 1900) in NSW cannot breed animals, or work with or care for animals relating to a breeding business in NSW.
- These persons also cannot manage or control a business relating to breeding animals in NSW.
- The above prohibitions do not apply to stock animals or working dogs bred for commercial purposes.
- The new amendments also mean that if a person is found guilty of the following specific offences:
then a NSW Court must make a disqualification order which prevents a person from being involved with animals, unless the Court is satisfied special circumstances exist. Disqualification orders can still be made at the discretion of the court for all other animal cruelty offences. A disqualification order has effect that a person must not purchase, acquire, or take possession or custody of an animal or keep or participate in keeping an animal, or be otherwise involved in the care of animals.
- a serious animal cruelty offence under the Crimes Act 1900,
- aggravated cruelty under POCTAA,
- administering poisons, baiting or animal fighting or live baiting/coursing under POCTAA
- Animals kept by persons in contravention of the above provisions can be seized, and appropriate actions taken (such as providing the animal with necessary food, drink, shelter and veterinary treatment, or disposal of the animal by euthanasia if it is cruel to be kept alive, or sale of the animal after 5 days).
- Persons convicted of serious interstate animal offence
- Serious interstate animal offences are those contained in the relevant Crimes Act or Criminal Code in each State or Territory.
- Persons convicted of a serious interstate animal offence cannot purchase or own an animal in NSW.
- Persons convicted of a serious interstate animal offence also cannot engage in paid or unpaid work involving direct contact or care of an animal in NSW.
- This is similar to existing provisions already in place that prohibit persons convicted of a serious animal cruelty offence under the Crimes Act 1900 in NSW from purchasing or owning an animal in NSW, and from engaging in paid or unpaid work involving direct contact or care of an animal.
- Animals kept in contravention of the above provisions can be seized.
- These provisions apply to convictions that occurred prior to the commencement of the Act.
- Interstate Prohibition Orders
- From 1 July 2023, interstate prohibition orders will apply in NSW in the same way the order applies in the State or Territory where it was made. Animals kept in contravention of an interstate prohibition order can be seized. This replaces the current approach, where interstate prohibition orders must be recognised in writing and apply as if they were made in NSW.
- It is an offence in NSW to not comply with an interstate order in NSW.
EAPA key amendments
- Authority and disqualification
- The Secretary must cancel an authority if the holder of the authority is convicted of a ‘relevant offence’.
- For the purposes of cancelling an authority, a ‘relevant offence’ is an offence in relation to an animal under EAPA, POCTAA, the Animal Research Act 1985, Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, and serious animal cruelty offences under the Crimes Act 1900.
- If the Secretary cancels the authority because of a conviction for a relevant offence, the holder must also be declared disqualified from holding an authority.
- People working with or caring for animals under an authority
- The holder of an authority must not knowingly cause or permit a person convicted of a relevant offence to work with, or care for, an animal exhibited under the authority.
- The holder must also not knowingly cause or permit a person who has been charged with a relevant offence to work with, or care for, an animal exhibited under the authority, until the charge is finalised, withdrawn or until a decision has been made not to commence proceedings.
- For the purposes of determining who cannot work or care for animals under an authority, a 'relevant offence' mean offences under EAPA in relation to an animal, serious animal cruelty offences under the Crimes Act 1900, or an offence under POCTAA in relation to an animal.
When does the Act commence?
The provisions of the Act are now in force.
Most provisions commenced on 1 January 2023. Provisions regarding interstate prohibition orders under POCTAA commenced on 1 July 2023.