Changes to the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001

Amendments to the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (the Act) commenced on 12 December 2022 after the Animal Care and Protection Amendment Act 2022 was passed by Queensland Parliament.

Changes to the Act resulted from several initiatives in Queensland, including the review of the Act, the Martin Inquiry and Queensland Audit Office report on regulating animal welfare, and previous consultation processes on cattle spaying and pregnancy testing.

Key amendments include:

  • A new offence for an aggravated breach of the duty of care, with a maximum penalty of $309,600.00 or 3 years imprisonment.
  • Prohibition of the use and possession of pronged dog collars.
  • A person who uses CSSP pig poison in Queensland may be prosecuted for animal cruelty under the Act.
  • A requirement for dogs to be secured on a vehicle, with an exemption for working dogs.
  • Clarification of minimum standards for making codes of practice under the Act, including on the basis of scientific evidence.
  • Clarification of the scientific use of animals, including alignment of the scientific use provisions to the Australian Scientific Use Code.
  • A new framework for accreditation schemes for cattle spaying and pregnancy testing.
  • Strengthening inspector powers in relation to entry and compliance with animal welfare directions.

Review of the Act

The Act was reviewed in 2021–2022 to ensure it aligned with contemporary scientific knowledge, animal welfare practices and community expectations. The review involved broad consultation with stakeholders and the community.

The Martin Inquiry

The Martin Inquiry was an independent inquiry commissioned by the Queensland Government in 2019. The inquiry looked at the management of retired racehorses, the regulatory and oversight arrangements for abattoirs and knackeries and the transport of horses to those facilities.

On Martin Inquiry recommendations, the Act has been amended to require closed-circuit television (CCTV) at horse slaughter establishments and improves the ability of Biosecurity Queensland to monitor horse slaughter. The Racing Integrity Act 2016 has also been amended to improve the ability of the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission to manage the rehoming of retired racehorses and make standards for racehorse breeding.

The Queensland Audit Office

In 2021, the Queensland Audit Office (QAO) audited the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries' (DAF) oversight of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Queensland Inc (RSPCA) to deliver services and exercise powers under the Act. The QAO tabled its final report on Regulating Animal Welfare (Report 6:2021–22) (QAO report) in November 2021.

The QAO recommended:

  • changes to the Act to clarify the accountabilities and accreditation of inspectors
  • provision for oversight by DAF of investigations and prosecutions
  • requirement for inspectors to declare conflicts of interest
  • requirement for DAF to approve a publicly available fee schedule of reasonable cost recovery.