Today Abigail stood to speak in support of a motion recognising the need to enforce penalties for animal abuse in NSW.
Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (11:45:02): On behalf of The Greens I speak in favour of this motion. When it comes to crimes like animal cruelty and domestic abuse, it is becoming increasingly clear that our laws are out of date and out of touch with community sentiment. The case of the brutal abuse of Eiffel, a French bulldog, whose owner recorded himself repeatedly kicking the dog before sending the recordings to his ex‑partner, is a devastating indication of the inadequacy of current penalties and how little our justice system understands about the clear link between animal cruelty and domestic abuse.
Despite the clearly documented abuse that Eiffel experienced over two days in late 2019, the condition in which Eiffel was found and the abuser's admission that the abuse was prompted by his learning that his ex‑partner was on a dating site, the abuser was ordered to pay veterinary costs, but no fine, and was placed on what was effectively a two-year good behaviour bond. The order prevented him from owning another pet for the duration of the order. His good behaviour bond has since been downgraded to only 11 months. He has faced no punishment for the coercive control, harassment and intimidation perpetrated against his ex‑partner because coercive control is not a crime in New South Wales. That is not good enough.
No reasonable person would believe that anyone who perpetrates such wilful and sustained animal abuse should be allowed to own another pet 11 months later or that this sort of vengeful attempt to cause psychological harm should be allowed under the law. Even the court found that the offender's conduct was made more serious by the fact that domestic violence was a feature of the offence. Australian and international studies suggest that animal abuse occurs in up to 70 per cent of domestic and family violence cases and that between 20 per cent and 50 per cent of victim-survivors have delayed or avoided leaving an abusive relationship out of concern for their animal's safety.
A clear correlation exists between animal cruelty and domestic abuse. Our laws not only do not explicitly recognise that link but they also are dangerously inadequate in both the animal cruelty and domestic abuse spheres. It is time and a matter of urgency to overhaul our animal cruelty laws to bring them into line with community expectations, to criminalise patterns of coercive and controlling behaviours in domestic and family contexts and to recognise that these horrific crimes do not occur in a vacuum. The Greens fully support the motion. I thank the Hon. Emma Hurst for moving it.