Your guide to making a submission to the review of the Queensland Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (ACPA)

Speak out against legalised cruelty! Here are key points to help you have your say for animals in QLD. You can email a submission or complete an online survey - all responses must be submitted by midnight Friday 21 May.
Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated 17 May 2021

[Submissions now closed] Speak out against legalised cruelty! Here are key points to help you have your say for animals in Queensland. You can email a submission or complete an online survey.

UPDATE: The consultation period is now closed. THANK YOU to all the wonderful people who made a submission. The Queensland Minister for Agriculture has confirmed that over 900 written submissions and 1,500 online survey responses were received. This is an amazing result for animals, by people who care about them. Here’s to a kinder future for animals in Queensland and everywhere.

How to make your submission

Your submission doesn’t need to be complex or overly formal. Simply say that you feel animals should be properly protected, provide the key points (below) in your own words — and remember to include your name, address and contact details.

Details of the review, the discussion paper and how to submit are on the QLD Department of Agriculture website.

You can:

  • Upload a written submission
  • Email your submission
  • Take an online survey (please prioritise a written submission with the key points below – but completing the survey in addition will be valuable to ensure the interests of animals are represented in the survey results). A guide to survey answers is also below.

Remember to get your submission or survey in by Friday 21 May to make it count.

Fundamental problems with the Act

ACPA is presented by the QLD Government as the laws and regulations for how animals can be legally treated in your state. The problem is, most animals are denied these protections.

In reality, ‘Codes of Practice’ and ‘Standards’ exempt harmful treatment of farmed animals, animals used for ‘entertainment’ and some others used for commercial purposes, that would otherwise be cruelty offences under the Act. For these animals the outdated Act:

  • Fails to require pain relief for painful or invasive practices like castration, dehorning or tail cutting
  • Allows intensive confinement like battery cages for hens and farrowing crates for mother pigs
  • Means that farmed animals fall through the cracks of the laws that are supposed to protect them.

Read more about how Australian state laws (including in Queensland) expose farmed animals to legalised cruelty.

Crucially, ACPA doesn’t acknowledge that animals are sentient – meaning that they are aware and feeling. Something that is not only completely obvious to anyone who has encountered an animal, but supported by science. In fact, New Zealand and the ACT have already done this, and the UK is about to enact laws acknowledging this very fact.

The QLD Government needs to hear from you, loud and clear, that the Act has to change to fix these problems.

Five key points that need to be addressed in the Act

Please include these in your submission.

  1. The sentience of non-human animals and our obligation to provide them basic freedoms must be acknowledged
  2. An Independent Office of Animal Protection must be created
  3. A minimum baseline of animal welfare must be enshrined to ensure all animals are protected from suffering and afforded a life worth living, including farmed animals
  4. Mandatory bans for repeat or serious animal cruelty offenders must be introduced
  5. Calf roping events in Queensland rodeos must be banned

These issues are expanded below.

This image contains content which some may find confronting

Currently APCA doesn’t acknowledge that animals are sentient beings – meaning they are aware and feeling.

Key points explained: what you could include in an email submission

The sentience of non-human animals & community obligation to them

A reasonable person would think that an ‘animal care’ Act would take into account that animals are sentient (meaning they are aware and feeling). But ACPA and the supporting documentation for the review are striking in the lack of this perspective. The Act focuses on the people who interact with and ‘use’ animals, but fails to acknowledge that animals have their own lived experiences and their welfare is a goal in its own right.

The Act and review seem narrowly focused on dogs and companion animals. But most animals in human care are farmed animals. Many Australians aren’t aware that farmed animals are left exposed to unnecessary suffering by Industry Codes of Practice and Standards that exempt them from state laws like this Act and allow them to be treated in ways that wouldn’t be allowed for dogs and other companion animals under this Act.

Key point to put in your own words:

  1. Recognise the sentience of non-human animals and the community’s obligation to protect the basic requirements of animal welfare – freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and disease; freedom to express normal behaviours; and freedom from fear and distress.

 

An Independent Office of Animal Protection

It’s a conflict of interest for the QLD Department of Agriculture to determine policy, inspect and prosecute animal cruelty offences when it is also tasked with the promotion of agricultural activities.

Key point to put in your own words:

  1. Enable the establishment of an Independent Office of Animal Protection to address the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ current conflict of interest in regulating and enforcing animal-use industries while fostering those industries’ economic productivity.

 

A minimum baseline of animal welfare

Industry Codes of Practice and Standards expose farmed animals to routine cruelty that would otherwise be an offence under ACPA.

Key point to put in your own words:

  1. Provide a minimum baseline of animal welfare to ensure that neither that Codes nor Standards can enable animal cruelty that should otherwise be prohibited under the Act.

 

Mandatory bans for repeat or serious animal cruelty offenders

Currently, repeat or serious animal cruelty offenders can still possess animals – like the shocking case of horse cruelty in Toowoomba where Terence Oberle allowed dozens of horses to starve to death on his property. He still has possession of six of the survivors, as well as cattle, and is only barred from acquiring new horses for 10 years.

Key point to put in your own words:

  1. Ensure mandatory prohibition orders for repeat or serious offenders to prohibit those individuals from owning or being responsible for any animal for life.

 

Ban calf roping events in Queensland

Calf roping (also called rope and tie) has been banned in VIC and SA based on animal welfare concerns. It’s a timed rodeo event in which competitors on horseback chase down a frightened calf, rope them around the neck and ‘down’ them violently to the ground before tying their legs. An experienced veterinarian present at a 2021 QLD calf roping event called it ‘hideous and disgraceful’, according to our friends at Animal Liberation QLD.

Key point to put in your own words:

  1. Mandate the end to calf roping in Queensland as a prohibited event.

This image contains content which some may find confronting

Calf roping is highly stressful for the young animals forced to take part, and can result in severe injuries.

Your guide to taking the survey

Below are survey questions available on the review website, starting with Question 7 (as the first six are related to your details). We have selected a range of answers for the questions below that would reflect better outcomes for animals if taken on board by the Act review, and suggest you choose one you agree with.

Q.7 One of the purposes of the ACPA is to “…achieve a reasonable balance between the welfare needs of animals and the interests of people whose livelihood is dependent on the animals…”. This purpose is still suitable with increased animal welfare expectations and consumer preferences.

  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree

If you disagree, what do you think the purpose should be?

To protect animals from cruel treatment and ensure their wellbeing.

To recognise the sentience of non-human animals and the community’s obligation to protect the basic requirements of animal welfare – freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and disease; freedom to express normal behaviours; and freedom from fear and distress.

Q.8 The current prohibited event provisions are appropriate.

  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree

If you disagree, what would you change?

Bans on:

  • Rodeos – and particularly calf roping
  • Horse racing
  • Greyhound racing
  • End any use of animals for wagering

There should be other ‘prohibited’ activities – i.e Section 44 of the ACPA currently allows live bait fish to be used to lure and to catch fish (this is an offence exemption) – these are sentient animals and should not be used in this manner.

Q.9 Veterinary professionals should have obligations under the ACPA to report suspected incidents of animal cruelty or neglect to authorities.

  • Strongly agree

Q.10 The current list of surgical procedures restricted to veterinary surgeons is appropriate.

  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree

If you disagree, what should procedures be added or removed?

Cropping of dogs’ ears, declawing cats, or cropping cows’ or horses’ tails should only be done in the most dire of circumstances when the body part is injured or there is some other pressing medical need. More requirements needed around these operations, as is already the case with devoicing.

Q.11 The current provision on tail docking of dogs is appropriate.

  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree

If you disagree, please tell us how you think the provisions should change.

At a minimum regulations about tail docking need to be prescribed (they aren’t currently but are mentioned in the Act).

Q.12 The current provisions for the supply of animals that have undergone a regulated surgical procedure are appropriate.

  • Somewhat agree
  • Strongly agree

Q.13 The current provisions for traps and spurs are appropriate.

  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree

If you disagree, please tell us how you think the provisions should change

Toothed steel-jawed traps and glue traps should be banned.

Q.14 The current offences relating to the use of dogs to kill or injure another animal are appropriate.

  • Strongly disagree

If you disagree, please tell us how you think the provisions should change

The existing offences should remain and be expanded to include hunting such as ‘pig dogging’. This practice is dangerous for the dogs and cruel to the animals being hunted, and difficult to monitor.

Q.15 The current offence relating to confining a dog is appropriate.

  • Strongly disagree

If you disagree, please tell us how you think the provisions should change

There are serious concerns with tethering dogs, as well as confining dogs in enclosed spaces such as cages or crates for long periods of time (as currently may happen for some working dogs or in the greyhound racing industry, for example). Minimum housing requirements should be clearly specified.

Q.16 Transporting an unrestrained dog in the back of an open utility, tray of a truck or from an open window should be made a specific offence under the ACPA.

  • Strongly agree

Q.17 The scope of when an animal is used for scientific purposes should be aligned with the Scientific Use Code. In particular, it should be expanded to:

  •  accommodate advances in science such as the creation and breeding of new animals where the impact on the animal’s wellbeing is unknown or uncertain, and
  •   add other practices that involve the use of animals for science, including diagnosis, product testing and production of biological products.
    • Strongly agree
    • Somewhat agree

Q.18 Other provisions in the APCA relating to the scientific use of animals are appropriate.

  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree

If you disagree, please tell us how you think the provisions should change

There should be increased accountability and reporting. There is a strong public interest in animal testing. Data must be regularly published by the Department in a timely and transparent manner. Certain procedures should be prohibited including forced swim test and antibody production. Exceptions for performing prohibited procedures should be removed.

Q.19 The powers of inspectors under the ACPA are sufficient to allow inspectors to effectively deal with animal welfare incidents and do not require strengthening.

  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree

If you disagree, what should be changed?

Amend to remove possible delay in cases where animals are left with their owners despite very poor conditions, like the case of cruelty to horses in Toowoomba.

Q.20 It is appropriate for the Queensland Government to authorise non-government organisations, such as the RSPCA, to undertake investigations and conduct prosecutions under the ACPA.

  • Strongly agree

It’s a conflict of interest for the Department of Agriculture to inspect and prosecute animal cruelty offences when it is also tasked with the promotion of agricultural activities.

These other organisations (RSPCA) should be properly resourced by the Government to operate their inspectorate and related activities (e.g. costs of seizing animals, prosecutions etc.)

Q.21 People from non-government organisations who are appointed as inspectors under the ACPA should be subject to the same accountability as public servants in terms of ethics and codes of conduct.

  • Strongly agree

Q.22 The current suite of compliance options (not including PINs, as discussed below) for responding to breaches of animal welfare under the ACPA is comprehensive.

  • Neither agree nor disagree
  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree

If you disagree, what should be changed?

Amend to reduce risk of animals being left with owners for long periods of noncompliance. For example, the horse cruelty case in Toowoomba.

Q.23 PINs should be introduced as a compliance option under the ACPA for clearly defined, low range animal welfare offences.

  • Strongly agree
  • Somewhat agree

Q.24 The introduction of a provision that would allow a court to make a decision to sell or rehome seized animals prior to court matters being finalised is reasonable.

  • Strongly agree
  • Somewhat agree

Q.25 The introduction of a provision that would allow a court to impose a bond or security on the owner of seized animals for the care of their animals prior to court matters being finalised is reasonable.

  • Strongly agree
  • Somewhat agree

Q.27 The maximum penalties for animal welfare offences under the ACPA are appropriate.

  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree

If you disagree, how should they be changed?

Note that the penalties themselves might be appropriate but they are not used and enforced fully. For example, the horse cruelty case in Toowoomba. This lack of use and enforcement must be remedied in the Act, perhaps with minimum penalties.

Thank you so much for speaking out to create a kinder future for Queensland’s animals.