Legislative Council: Thursday, November 03, 2022


Summary Offences (Dog Theft) Amendment Bill

Introduction and First Reading

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (12:50): Obtained leave and introduced a bill for an act to amend the Summary Offences Act 1953. Read a first time.

Second Reading

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (12:51): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I am pleased to introduce the Summary Offences (Dog Theft) Amendment Bill 2022, which implements an election commitment made by the government to increase penalties to deter the theft of dogs for financial gain. The bill amends the Summary Offences Act 1953 to insert a new summary offence of dog theft into section 47A. The offence has a maximum penalty of $50,000 or two years' imprisonment.

In recent times, reports in the media have suggested that the cost of dogs and, particularly, pure bred and designer breeds, have increased considerably due to increase in demand and a reduction in supply. This in turn has created the possibility that the offenders will seek to take advantage of these circumstances and make significant financial gains from the stealing or selling of dogs.

Dogs have a special place in many family homes and need to be protected from being taken away from their loved ones. While the theft of a dog can currently be dealt with under the general theft offences in section 134 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act, this offence in particular does not explicitly provide for a fine. The new summary offence for dog theft in the bill introduces a substantial financial penalty, which acts as a strong deterrent against would-be offenders who may be motivated by profit.

The new offence is similar in approach to that adopted in New South Wales and the Northern Territory, which both provide for a separate offence for stealing a dog. The new law does not displace the existing provisions of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act, which allow for theft to be prosecuted under the general theft offence.

Police may still choose to charge under the criminal law consolidation offence where it is appropriate, having regard to the particular nature, extent of the offending, strength of the available evidence and the appropriate sentence. For example, where an offender uses violence against the person in the commission of that theft, it may be appropriate to charge theft under the Criminal Law Consolidation Act to make out the offence of robbery under section 137 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act.

The deterrence of unscrupulous persons for stealing dogs for profit is appropriately addressed by this hefty financial penalty attaching to the new offence and I am pleased that the government is delivering further on an election commitment. I commend the bill to the chamber and seek leave to insert the explanation of clauses into Hansard without my reading it.

Leave granted.

Explanation of Clauses

Part 1—Preliminary

1—Short title


These clauses are formal.

Part 2—Amendment of Summary Offences Act 1953

3—Insertion of section 47A

This clause inserts section 47A into the principal Act.

47A—Dog theft

This provision establishes an offence of dog theft. It provides that a person who steals a dog, or has unlawfully in their possession a stolen dog knowing that the dog has been stolen, is guilty of an offence.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. L.A. Curran.