One step closer to tougher animal welfare laws after Bill passes second reading

RSPCA NSW welcomes the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment Bill 2021, presented by Adam Marshall MP in parliament yesterday, passing the second reading as it is a step towards increased animal welfare penalties in New South Wales. 
 
The proposed changes in this Bill will see some of the toughest penalties and sentences in Australia, increasing the range of tools available to courts to effectively deal with animal welfare cases. 
 
The NSW Government supports RSPCA NSW’s role in enforcing the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (POCTAA) and this Bill reaffirms the commitment to reforming and updating the animal welfare legislation in NSW to better align with community expectation. The Bill will also close a gap in existing animal welfare laws, where under the Crimes Act 1900, people convicted of the most serious cruelty offences cannot be banned from owning animals. 
 
CONTENT OF BILL 

  • Increasing statutory maximum penalties for key offences in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (POCTAA). 
     
    Cruelty – from $5,500 and/or 6 months imprisonment to $44,000 and/or 12 months imprisonment for individuals and from $27,500 to $220,000 for corporations 
    Aggravated Cruelty – from $22,000 and/or 2 years imprisonment to $110,000 and/or 2 years imprisonment for individuals and from $110,000 to $550,000 for corporations 
    Failing to provide food/drink/shelter – from $5,500 and/or 6 months imprisonment to $16,500 and/or 6 months imprisonment for individuals and from $27,500 to $82,500 for corporations. 
     
  • Increasing the Penalty Infringement Notice amount for key offences in POCTAA 
     
    Cruelty – from $500 to $1,000 for individuals, and from $1,500 to $5,000 for corporations; Failure to provide food/drink/shelter – from $200 to $500 for individuals, and from $1,000 to $2,500 for corporations. 
     
  • Making existing POCTAA court orders and alternative summons provisions available for the more serious animal welfare and related offences under the Crimes Act 1900 to provide courts with more options to deal with animal welfare cases. 
     
  • Introducing interim disqualification orders for animal welfare charges brought under POCTAA and the Crimes Act 1900, which would prevent a person from acquiring new animals while proceedings are ongoing. 
     
  • Increasing statutory maximum penalties and introducing a six-month maximum imprisonment term for non-compliance with a disqualification order, interim disqualification order, or a court order to produce an animal and introducing transitional arrangements enabling the new and improved court orders to be used in proceedings that have already commenced but have yet to be finalised. 

RSPCA NSW remains committed to the mission of preventing cruelty to animals and promoting animal welfare and looks forward to working with the NSW Government, enforcement agencies and the community to achieve these goals in the interest of all animals. 

For more information or an interview with an RSPCA NSW spokesperson, please contact RSPCA NSW Media via Mobile: 0488905353 or Email: media@rspcansw.org.au