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Part 4—Animal welfare offences
Division 1—Breach of duty of care
Clause 63: Breach of duty of care prohibited

This clause provides that a person in charge of an animal owes a duty of care to it and must not breach that duty—a breach of the duty will amount to an offence. A person would breach the duty if the person failed to take reasonable steps to provide the animal with food and water, suitable accommodation, and treatment for disease or injury, or the person failed in the appropriate handling of the animal.


To further ensure that legitimate and acceptable animal use is not restricted or that unnecessarily harsh consequences arise from the imposition of the duty of care, regard must be had to the animal species, environment and circumstances of the animal. This will determine what reasonable steps a person in charge of animal should take to comply with their duty of care obligation.
Division 2—Cruelty offences
Clause 64: Animal cruelty prohibited

Provision is made under this clause for an offence of cruelty towards an animal. The clause details what type of conduct is regarded as cruelty for the purposes of the offence without limiting what may amount to cruelty towards an animal. It is not possible to exhaustively define the notion of cruelty. What amounts to cruelty will often depend on the individual circumstances of the animal in question and what the community perceives as ‘cruel’.


Clause 65: Alleviation of pain

Under this clause provision is made for a person who injures an animal (specifically those not in charge of the injured animal) must not, without reasonable excuse, fail to take reasonable steps (including, where appropriate, seeking veterinary treatment) to alleviate any pain suffered by the animal. And a person in charge of animal must not, without reasonable excuse, fail to take adequate precautions to prevent the escape of the animal from custody or control.



Division 3—Prohibited conduct
Clause 66: Unreasonable abandonment

This clause provides that it is an offence for a person to abandon an animal without reasonable excuse or is authorised by law to do so. This provision, in part, is designed to ensure that persons do not simply abandon an animal that they have responsibility for without making appropriate arrangements for the animal’s care.


Clause 67: Prohibited release

Clause 67 defines what is meant by ‘intentional release’ and ‘unintentional release’.


A person in charge of an animal must not intentionally or unintentionally release an animal unless the person has a reasonable excuse or the release is authorised by law.
Clause 68: Causing captive animal to be injured or killed by dog

This clause makes it an offence for a person to knowingly cause an animal in captivity to be injured or killed by a dog.


Clause 69: Releasing animal for injury or killing by dog

Under this clause it is an offence to release an animal for injury or killing by a dog. The clause also makes it an offence, in circumstances where it is likely that an animal released will be injured or killed by a dog, not to take reasonable steps to prevent the killing or injury.


Clause 70: Keeping or using as kill or lure for blooding or coursing

This clause makes it an offence for a person to keep or use an animal as a lure or kill for blooding a dog or to race or train a coursing dog (a dog that is used to chase or hunt another animal).


Clause 71: Possession of prohibited trap or spur unlawful

It is an offence under clause 71 to possess a prohibited trap or spur. There are many traps regarded by the community as inhumane as they cause considerable and unnecessary suffering to animals.

A prohibited trap or spur includes:


  1. a trap which is prescribed by regulation to be prohibited;

  2. a spur with sharpened or fixed rowels;

  3. a cockfighting spur cap.

It will not be an offence for a person to possess any of the above where they have a reasonable excuse, for example, the items are for a display or part of a collection and have been rendered inoperable.


Clause 72: Use of prohibited trap or spur unlawful

Under this clause it is an offence for a person to use a prohibited trap or spur.


Clause 73: Baits and harmful substances

Clause 73 prohibits a person from administering a poisonous substance to an animal with the intention of injuring or killing it.


Only those in possession of a permit, or those who have been assessed, or who are under assessment under the EPBC by PER or EIA—and it is apparent that there are no impacts caused on threatened species, migratory birds, or any matters of NES—and that the baits laced by hand are laid by approved officers.
All baits are to be recorded and a register kept of all laid and recovered baits. Auditing must include estimated numbers of target species and deaths, and an estimate of non-target species mortality.
The clause also makes it an offence for a person to lay (deposit, distribute, leave or throw) a bait or poison with the intention of injuring or killing an animal.
Clause 74: Unlawfully allowing an animal to injure or kill another animal

It is an offence under clause 74 to unlawfully allow an animal (the “first animal”) to injure or kill another animal (the “second animal”). The offence will occur when a person:




  1. has the first animal under the person’s immediate supervision, (for example, when a person is in the person’s home and knows the first animal, a dog is in the backyard);

  2. was aware of the second animal’s presence (for example, the person sees a koala enter the backyard);

  3. ought reasonably to have suspected that the second animal was immediately vulnerable (for example, the koala is in the backyard on the ground);

  4. the second animal is likely to be injured or killed by the first animal (for example, the koala is likely to be injured by the dog); and

  5. does not take reasonable steps to prevent the injury or killing (for example, by putting the dog on a lead).


Clause 75: Cropping of dogs’ ears

This clause makes it an offence for a person to crop a dog’s ears unless the person is a veterinary surgeon who considers the cropping to be necessary in the interests of the dog’s welfare.




Clause 76: Docking dogs’ tails

Under clause 76 it is an offence for a person (other than a veterinary surgeon) to dock a dog’s tail, and docking when performed must be undertaken by a veterinary surgeon, and it can only be done so if the surgeon considers it to be in the interests of the dog’s welfare.


Clause 77: Debarking operations

It is an offence under clause 77 for a person to perform a debarking operation on a dog unless the person is a veterinary surgeon who:




  1. considers the operation to be necessary in the interests of the dog’s welfare; or

  2. has been given a relevant nuisance abatement notice and considers the operation the only way to comply with the notice without destroying the dog; or

  3. has been given an appropriate notice and the surgeon reasonably considers the only way to stop the dog’s barking from being a nuisance without destroying the dog, is to perform the operation.


Clause 78: Removal of cats’ claws

Under clause 78 it is an offence for a person to remove a cat’s claw unless the person is a veterinary surgeon who considers the removal to be necessary in the interests of the cat’s welfare, or in the interests of native wildlife.


Clause 79: Docking tails of cattle or horses

This clause makes it an offence for a person to dock the tail of cattle or a horse unless the person is a veterinary surgeon who considers the cropping to be necessary in the interests of the cattle or horse’s welfare.


Clause 80: Use for certain scientific purposes unlawful

It is an offence under clause 80 for a person, without the written approval of the Authority, to conduct the test commonly known as the Draize eye or skin irritancy test, or a similar test, or conduct the test commonly known as the classical LD 50 test, or a similar test, or use an animal for a scientific purpose if the use involves a cosmetic, or a sunscreen product, or an ingredient of a cosmetic or sunscreen product.



Division 4—Prohibited events
Clause 81: Meaning of prohibited event

This clause defines the meaning of “prohibited event”. Prohibited events are events the community generally regards as totally unacceptable because the events involve deliberate infliction of pain and suffering on an animal and may result in the animal's death. Prohibited events include:




  1. a bullfight or organised event held for public entertainment in which a person provokes a bull in a way that is likely to cause it to charge;

  2. a cockfight or dogfight or other event in which an animal fights, or is encouraged to fight, with another animal;

  3. a canned hunt or other event in which an animal is killed in an enclosure to obtain a trophy;

  4. coursing or another event in which an animal is released from captivity to be hunted, injured or killed by another animal;

  5. an event in which an animal is released from captivity to be hunted, or shot at by a person;

  6. an event prescribed under a regulation held for public enjoyment or entertainment, with or without charge to anyone present, at which anyone participating in the event causes an animal pain.


Clause 82: Participation in prohibited event

This clause prohibits a person from participation in a prohibited event. A person participates in a prohibited event where the person organises, takes part in the organisation of, permits to be organised, supplies animals to be used in or provides the place for the prohibited event.


Clause 83: Presence at prohibited event

It is an offence under clause 83 for a person to be present at a prohibited event unless the person has a reasonable excuse.



Division 5—Regulated conduct
Clause 84: Obligation to exercise closely confined dogs

This clause makes it an offence to fail to exercise or cause to be exercised a closely confined dog during every 24 hour period either for a continuous period of at least 2 hours or for 2 separate periods of at least 1 hour each. In deciding whether a dog is closely confined, regard must be had to the dog’s age, physical condition and size as these factors determine the exercise needs of the individual dog.


Clause 85: Feral animals or pests

Provision exists under clause 85 for an offence exemption in respect of feral animals or pests. This clause has the effect of permitting a person to do acts for the purposes of controlling pests or feral animals provided the act:




  1. causes the animal as little pain as is reasonable;

  2. satisfies any conditions prescribed by regulation;

  3. does not involve the use of a prohibited trap or spur; and

  4. does not damage or cause damage to eco-systems and causes no harm or damage to non-target species.


Clause 86: Animals used to feed another animal

Under clause 86 an offence exemption exists where the act that constitutes an offence involves using an animal as live food for another animal. The offence exemption will apply where the person lawfully keeps both animals and the fed animal will only eat the food animal if it is alive and is essential for the fed animal’s survival. This section would apply, for example, to certain species of raptor that will only eat live food.



Part 5—Live Exports
Clause 87: Limitation on live exports

Under clause 87 a person must not transport a live animal for commercial purposes from Australia without a permit issued by the National Animal Welfare Authority. This section has no effect on the export provisions of the EPBC Wildlife Act.




Clause 88: Export permits

Clause 88 details that a person must apply to the Authority for a permit to transport live animals for commercial purposes from Australia, and that an application must be made at least 30 days before the proposed transportation.


A permit will only be granted if the Authority is satisfied that:


  1. the applicant will comply with the provisions of this section and with any code of practice for exporting live animals approved by the Minister under the Regulations; and

  2. the applicant will make all facilities to be used in the transportation, including waiting areas to be used before and after the transportation, available for inspection by an inspector; and

  3. an inspector will be able to inspect the facilities at the port of destination and if the animals are exported for slaughter outside Australia the abattoirs to be used for the slaughter of the animals; and

  4. the applicant will employ, for the purpose of the transportation, the number of veterinary surgeons and competent stockpersons decided by the Authority; and

  5. the applicant will allow an inspector to be present at the loading and unloading of the animals; and

  6. the applicant will, if the Authority directs, allow an inspector to accompany the transportation.

Export permits will not be granted to an applicant unless the Authority is satisfied that the laws and codes of practice relating to animal welfare that operate in the country to which the animals are to be exported provide comparable animal welfare standards and protection to the laws of Australia.


An Inspector may detain a vessel until all the requirements for transportation are fulfilled.
Live export permits can be withdrawn by the Authority, providing a written notice to the holder, if an animal keeper fails to implement the provisions of this Act or to comply with any approved code of practice for exporting live animals.
If, after granting a permit and before the transportation to which it relates, the Authority ceases to be satisfied of any of the matters specified, the Authority may, by written notice given to the applicant, withdraw the permit.
Clause 89: Duties of veterinary surgeons

Provision is made under clause 90 for a veterinary surgeon accompanying a transportation of animals to keep records as prescribed as to the welfare and comfort of the animals during the transportation—these reports are to be submitted to the Authority within 2 weeks of returning to Australia.


The veterinarian report must include records of animal deaths and their physical condition during the transportation.
Clause 90: Liability

Under this clause the welfare of the animals remains with the seller of the animals unless legally passed on to an agent. Transfer of liability must be in writing and signed by both the seller and the agent. Liability will remain with the seller or his or her agent during the entire act of transportation and up until the time of delivery.


A person identified as liable may show that another person is liable for a particular act during transportation should it result in the suffering or death of an animal. If liability cannot be clearly placed with a particular person, the liability must be jointly held by those persons against whom it can be reasonably assumed that such a liability may lie.


Part 6—Imports of animal products
Clause 91: Limitation on import of animal products

This clause indicates that a person must not import animal products without a permit issued by the Authority—it has no effect on import provisions of the EPBC Wildlife Act.


Clause 92: Import permits

Clause 92 identifies that a person must apply to the Authority for a permit to import animal products, and that the application must be made at least 30 days before the proposed importation.


The Authority will not issue an import permit to an applicant unless the Authority is satisfied that the laws and codes of practice relating to animal welfare that operate in the country of origin of the animal products to be imported provide comparable animal welfare standards and protection to the laws of Australia.

Part 7—Labelling of animal products
Clause 93: Authority to develop draft code of practice

This clause details that not less than 3 years after the commencement of this Act, the Authority must prepare and give to the Minister for approval a draft code of practice in relation to the labelling of animal products. The Authority will consult with the community by inviting and considering written submissions from members of the public, and by convening public meetings in each state and internal territory on this issue.


Regulated labelling of animal products establishes a system of labelling that provides consumers with information about the methods used to produce animal products where those methods may influence consumer choice because of their impact on:


  1. animal welfare; or

  2. the health, safety, ethical or moral concerns or religious beliefs of consumers.

The draft code of practice will apply to both imported and domestic products.



Part 8—Animals used for experimental purposes
Clause 94: Definitions

In this Part:



animal means an invertebrate or vertebrate animal other than a human being.

approved research is research approved under this Act.

pain refers to both psychological and physical pain and, in an animal, is taken to be the same sensation that an average, well human, having suffered the same trauma, would experience.

research means a critical or scientific inquiry, study, investigation or experimental test, including a procedure involving interference with an animal’s condition of well-being, where pain or distress is likely to occur.

research unit means premises on which animals are used in research and includes premises used for collecting, assembling, breeding, rearing or maintaining animals in connection with a research unit. research unit operator means the person responsible for a research unit.

research worker means a person actively involved in research.

supply unit means premises other than a research unit that are used for the maintaining, breeding and rearing of animals and the collecting and assembling of such pursuant to a contract between the operator of the supply unit and the operator of a research unit.

supply unit operator means the person responsible for a supply unit.
Clause 95—Offence to operate research unit or supply unit without a licence

This clause defines that a person must not operate a research unit or a supply unit without a licence under this Part.


Clause 96—Offence to experiment with animals other than in accordance with NHMRC code of practice

Under this clause a person is prohibited from conducting experiments with animals other than in accordance with a code of practice issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council, specifically Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes.


Clause 97—Matters of responsibility

This clause describes the Authority’s responsibilities in relation to the experimental use of animals:


(a) the issuing of licences for approved research to a research worker;

(b) the issuing of licences for the operation of a supply unit;

(c) the issuing of licences for the operation of a research unit;

(d) giving final approval and issuing licences to all research projects funded by a Commonwealth Department or program;



  1. giving final approval and issuing licenses to all research projects funded by a corporation of the kind mentioned in section 5 of this Act or an international corporation;

  1. the submission of an annual report to the Minister to disclose:

(i) the number of animals bred within each research unit and the number purchased or obtained from recognised suppliers in each year, broken down into the different species bred or brought in, such record to include the names and addresses of suppliers; and

(ii) the number of animals made available for research each year, and the number of animals used by species; and

(iii) the number of animals utilised for breeding colony maintenance; and

(iv) the number of animals surplus to requirements which were culled, and by what method; and

(v) the number of deaths from disease or from unexplained causes; and

(vi) the number of experiments and/or tests on live whole animals during the preceding twelve months; and

(vii) the number of experiments or tests on live whole animals in which anaesthesia was administered; and

(viii) the number of animals used per category of experiment or test, for example, cancer research; diagnostic procedures; medical and veterinary; standardisation of drugs, sera and vaccines, safety testing of household products, safety testing of cosmetics, testing of weapons, riot control and defence devices, safety testing of agricultural products, safety testing of industrial chemicals, toxicity testing of food additives and behavioural research; and



  1. advising inspectors on any matter relating to this Part; and

  1. assessing recommendations from inspectors or research unit operators for revocation of licences, and the revocation of such licences, temporarily or otherwise; and

(h) reporting and making recommendations regarding any extension of the use of animals by commercial interests, recognising that strict controls are necessary where the overall purpose of experiments is the pursuit of commercial enterprise; and

(i) giving the Minister continuing help and advice; and

(j) ensuring that the requirements of scientists are assessed by a competent authority; and

(k) ensuring that the public is aware that proposals for cruel experiments will be scrutinised; and

(l) providing a panel of persons with expertise in animal welfare and laboratory animal science to advise licensees; and

(m) actively encouraging through grants and incentive schemes, research into alternatives to animal experimentation.


Clause 98: Data bank

Under clause 98 the Authority will establish a data bank of all experiments using animals carried out in both Australia and overseas, and proceed to establish a data bank of alternatives to these experiments using animals.


Clause 99: Licences

This clause sets out the criteria for applying to the Authority for a licence:




  1. to operate a research unit; or

  2. to operate a supply unit; or

  3. to conduct a research project.

The Authority will not grant a licence to a person unless the person undertakes in writing to comply with the Australian Code of Practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Note: It is an offence under section 94 to fail to comply with the Code of Practice.
The Authority will not grant a licence to operate a research unit unless it is satisfied that the applicant will provide all pens, cages, compounds, tools, implements, buildings and dietary materials necessary to properly care for and handle animals in the research unit in compliance with the cruelty provisions of this Act.
The Authority must not grant a licence to operate a supply unit unless it is satisfied that the applicant:


  1. has proven experience in the proper care and handling of animals; and

  2. possesses all pens, cages, compounds, vehicles, tools, implements, buildings and dietary materials necessary to properly care for and handle animals on his or her premises as specified in the regulations; and

  3. has a veterinarian readily available to provide care and regular inspections of the breeding and maintenance premises.



Clause 100: Public notice of licences

This clause identifies that the Authority has a responsibility to ensure that the notices of an application for a licence are published in a newspaper circulating in the locality of a research unit and in a different newspaper circulating nationally. These notices must state the time when and place where the Authority will meet to consider whether to grant the licence.


Clause 101: Conditions of licences

Clause 101 sets out that a licence under this Part is subject to such conditions as the Authority determines and specifies in the licence.



Clause 102: Objections to licences

This clause requires entitles any person to appear before the Authority to object to the proposed grant of a licence.


Clause 103: Suspension or revocation of licence

Clause 103 sets out the criteria by which the Authority may suspend or revoke a licence to operate a research unit or a supply unit if the Authority is satisfied, but only on the inspection and recommendation of the inspector that:




  1. the operator has failed to comply with a condition of the licence or this Act; or

  2. the operator has not properly maintained any of the facilities, equipment or materials referred to in the Regulations; or

  3. the operator or any person employed by, or associated with, the operator in the research unit, has failed to observe or carry out the provisions of this Act or some other law relating to cruelty, maltreatment or neglect of animals.

The Authority may suspend or revoke another licence under this Part if the operator has failed to comply with a condition of the licence.


Clause 104: Acquisition of animals for research

Under this clause an operator of a research unit must not purchase or otherwise acquire an animal from any person for use in the research unit except from:




  1. the operator of a licensed research unit; or

  2. the operator of a supply unit.


Clause 105: Revoked licences

This clause permits the Authority to revoke a licence to operate a research unit, denying the operator an opportunity of gaining another licence for a period of one year after the revocation. Operators included under this clause: organisations and responsible individuals determined by the Authority.


Clause 106: Management of pain

Under this clause an animal used in a research unit in any experiment that is likely to cause pain to the animal must be anaesthetised.


Operators of research units must provide analgesics adequate to prevent an animal suffering pain during the period of its recovery from any procedure used in any experiment.


Clause 107: Notice of revocation, refusal or suspension of licence

This clause allows the Authority to refuse to grant, or propose to suspend or revoke a licence, but the Authority must give notice to the applicant or licensee, together with written reasons for its refusal or proposed suspension or revocation.


Clause 108: Annual report of research unit operator

Under clause 108 the operator of a licensed research unit must submit an annual report to the Authority showing:




  1. the purpose of the experiment; and

  2. the need (ie does it duplicate other experiments and do the purposes justify it); and

  3. commercial interests involved in the experiment; and

  4. the number of animals bred within each unit and the number purchased or obtained from

  5. recognised suppliers in each year, broken down into the different species bred or brought in, including the names and addresses of suppliers; and

  6. the number of animals made available for research each year, and the number of animals used by species e.g. horses, dogs, cats, rodents, etc.; and

  7. the number of animals utilised for breeding colony maintenance; and

  8. the number of animals surplus to requirements which were culled and by what method; and

  9. the number of deaths from disease or from unexplained causes; and

  10. the number of experiments or tests on live whole animals during the preceding 12 months; and

  11. the number of experiments or tests on live whole animals in which anaesthesia was administered; and

  12. the number of animals used per category of experiment or test, e.g. cancer research, diagnostic procedures, medical and veterinary, standardisation of drugs, sera and vaccines, safety testing of household products, safety testing of cosmetics, testing of weapons, riot control and defence devices, safety testing of agricultural products, safety testing of industrial chemicals, toxicity test of food additives, behavioural research.

  13. a matter may be excluded from the annual report an the basis of commercial in confidence only if the information reveals a trade secret or details a process or product under patent.


Clause 109: Annual report of supply unit operator

This clause sets out the criteria for an operator of a supply unit in relation to their submission to the Authority’s annual report, which must include:





  1. the number of each species bred; and

  2. to whom the animals are sold or forwarded; and

  3. the numbers of animals acquired by each purchaser; and

  4. the numbers retained for breeding colony maintenance and the numbers culled; and

  5. deaths from disease and from unknown sources; and

  6. from where breeding animals are obtained.


Clause 110: Register

Clause 110 allows for the Authority to keep a register of persons using animals for scientific purposes.

This may be kept in any way the Authority considers appropriate, including, for example, in electronic form.

Clause 111: Registration details

This clause requires that the register must state the following for each registered person:




  1. the person’s name, address and registered number;

  2. if the person is not an individual the name of the principal executive officer of the registered entity;

  3. other information prescribed under a regulation.

  4. The register may include other information the chief executive considers appropriate.

  5. The information recorded in the register for a registered person is called the person’s registration details.


Clause 112: Inspection of register

Under clause 112 the Authority must:




  1. keep the register open for inspection, free of charge, by members of the public during office hours on business days at the Authority’s office; and

  2. allow a person to take extracts, free of charge, from the register; and

  3. give a person a copy of the register, or a part of it, on payment of the fee prescribed under a regulation.



Clause 113: False representations about registration

This clause requires that a person must not, in connection with the use of an animal for a scientific purpose, intentionally or recklessly falsely represent that the person or someone else is a registered person.


Clause 114: Conditions for cancellation or suspension

Under this clause the Authority may cancel or suspend a person’s registration if:




  1. the registration was because of a materially false or misleading representation or declaration, made either orally or in writing;

  2. the person has not complied with a registration condition;

  3. the person has not paid a fee prescribed under this Act in relation to the registration;

  4. if the person is an individual:

(i) a disqualifying event happens in relation to the individual; or

(ii) the individual becomes an undischarged bankrupt or, as a debtor, takes advantage of any law about bankruptcy or insolvent debtors;



  1. if the person is a corporation:

(i) a disqualifying event happens in relation to any of its executive officers or another corporation of which any of its executive officers is, or has been, an executive officer; or

(ii) it becomes insolvent as defined under the Corporations Act, section 95A.



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