Further to his speech indicating that the Greens would oppose this Government Bill unless it was substantially amended, today Mark introduced the Greens' amendments to it. These were supported by SA-Best but opposed by both Liberal and Labor so did not pass.
Summary Offences (Trespass on Primary Production Premises) Amendment Bill 2020
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I have three amendments to clause 5 and, given the position of the opposition, I am not going to speak to them at great length. I did explain them in my second reading contribution. I might just say at this stage that I appreciate the support that SA-Best is showing for these amendments. The Greens' position is very similar. We will not be supporting the third reading if none of these amendments get up.
Amendment No 1 [Parnell–1]—
Page 3, lines 24 to 32 [clause 5(1), inserted subsection (a2)(d)]—Delete paragraph (d) and substitute:
(i) the introduction, spread or increase of a disease or pest; or
(ii) the contamination of any substance or thing; or
What this amendment seeks to do is clarify a provision of the bill that effectively makes every single uninvited farm visit an aggravated offence. People will say, 'That's not right. There are special circumstances before you can say an offence is aggravated.' The words in this bill are that:
(i) involves, or gives rise to a risk of—
(A) the introduction, spread or increase of a disease or pest;
is an aggravating offence. Every single uninvited farm visit is an aggravating offence. Whether you are attending a chicken farm or you are attending a wheat farm, any person who does not turn up in a full biohazard suit is potentially putting at risk those crops or those animals, and therefore, under the definition in this bill, that is an aggravating circumstance and the penalties for an aggravated offence will apply. It is a ridiculous provision.
The Greens' amendment quite simply seeks to change it so that the aggravation comes from actually introducing, spreading or increasing a disease or pest that is present, or contaminating something. That is an aggravating offence, but not simply the risk. I would urge members to support my amendment No. 1.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL:
Amendment No 2 [Parnell–1]—
Page 3, after line 36 [clause 5(1)]—
After inserted subsection (a2) insert:
(a3) It is a defence to a charge of an offence against subsection (a1) to prove that the conduct constituting the offence was for the purpose of identifying, mitigating or preventing ill treatment of an animal.
(a4) Despite section 30(2)(b) of the Animal Welfare Act 1985, an inspector appointed under that Act may, at any time, exercise powers under section 30(1)(a) of the Animal Welfare Act 1985 in respect of primary production premises for the purpose of investigating, mitigating or preventing ill treatment of an animal.
(a5) In connection with subsection (a4), primary production premises will be taken to be premises to which section 30 of the Animal Welfare Act 1985 applies.
This amendment incorporates three elements—two effective elements—but I will do them as a job lot. The first thing my amendment does is seek to introduce a public interest defence. In my second reading speech I made the point—in fact, both times this bill has been introduced—that there is hardly a single animal welfare reform that has not come out of activists highlighting, through videos, photos and another means, as a part of uninvited farm visits, the abhorrent circumstances that were undertaken on some of these facilities.
That is how we got change. That is why people buy free-range eggs, not because the farmers put their hands up and said, 'Jeez, we've been really cruel. Do you want to see this, guys? Does everyone want to have a look at how bad our conditions are?' No; brave people attended the premises with cameras rolling, showed it to the world, and the world now demands kinder production methods.
I think having a public interest defence is important because that is the reason most of these uninvited farm visits take place. If they can prove that what they were doing was in the public interest, especially in the cases I was involved with in the Supreme Court in South Australia and elsewhere and farmers were prosecuted on the back of these uninvited farm visits as a result of the information obtained, then why on earth should those brave people suffer prosecution under a bill like this when what they did was in the public interest and resulted in the criminal prosecution of farm cruelty? I think it is important to have the public interest defence in.
The second one, and this is why I am going to divide on this amendment, is for when Liberal and Labor members are next invited to an RSPCA function. The RSPCA has been calling for years for the ability to turn up to farms to undertake their statutory responsibilities to prevent animal cruelty. They do not have that power. They cannot just turn up unannounced. This amendment gives them that power.
I will be dividing on this one because I want to see Liberal and Labor members turn up to the RSPCA events and have to eyeball the inspectors, eyeball the RSPCA members, and tell them, 'Yes, we voted against giving you proper powers to enforce state law on behalf of the community.' That is my challenge. The third part of this amendment is effectively consequential on the second.
These are important improvements; without these improvements the Greens will not be supporting the bill at all. I urge members to get behind these important amendments: public interest defence and giving the RSPCA the powers they have asked for.
The committee divided on the amendment:
|Bonaros, C.||Franks, T.A.||Pangallo, F.|
|Parnell, M.C. (teller)|
|Bourke, E.S.||Centofanti, N.J.||Dawkins, J.S.L.|
|Hanson, J.E.||Hood, D.G.E.||Hunter, I.K.|
|Lee, J.S.||Lensink, J.M.A.||Lucas, R.I. (teller)|
|Maher, K.J.||Ngo, T.T.||Pnevmatikos, I.|
|Ridgway, D.W.||Scriven, C.M.||Wortley, R.P.|
You can read Mark's speech to the Bill here.