Rival NSW bill to stamp out animal cruelty

Luke Costin
·2-min read

People who inflict serious harm on animals in NSW would face lifetime bans on owning pets and fines of up to $55,000 under proposed new laws.

Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst says the state currently has some of the weakest penalties for animal abuse in Australia, with countless perpetrators receiving nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

"We need to take animal cruelty more seriously," she told AAP on Monday.

"It's not a low-level crime and it shouldn't be treated as a low-level crime."

Her bill - in the works for months and to be introduced to state parliament on Tuesday - would increase maximum fines for animal cruelty from $5,500 to $55,000 and establish a minimum penalty in line with Western Australia's laws.

Each act of animal cruelty would warrant a fine of at least $2,200, while aggravated acts would draw fines of $3850.

The law would mandate a lifetime ban on animal ownership for those convicted of aggravated animal cruelty and bestiality.

Currently, the maximum penalty for aggravated animal cruelty is a $22,000 fine or two years in jail.

"It's ensuring the precedent of fines of $600 or lower aren't continued," she said.

"The courts can use their discretion to go up to the maximum in each case."

Ms Hurst's bill will rival the coalition government's own legislation, which was revealed on Sunday and is set to boost maximum fines to $44,000 and increase maximum jail terms.

"In some cases, these punishments are more than double that in most other states, so when these laws are passed, NSW will have the toughest set of animal cruelty penalties in Australia," Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said.

The Animal Justice Party MP welcomed the bill after the government told parliament in September new laws weren't due until 2021.

"It's something we don't need to wait on," she said.

"We're still ahead with ours because we haven't seen the details and we don't know if it goes far enough.

"And we need to keep the pressure up."

The proposed laws come two months after a 20-year-old student was placed on a community corrections order for leaving a bleeding and beaten kitten on the balcony of a Sydney unit.

In October, a Concord man who beat his dog in an apparent attempt to get back at his ex-partner had his community corrections order and ban on owning pets reduced on appeal from two years to 11 months.