Why is RSPCA telling us its opinion instead of the law?
Last month, we wrote (read here) to the Chief Executive of Queensland’s Department of Agriculture, Dr Beth Woods, asking why the Queensland RSPCA was telling people they couldn’t hunt in certain ways and then adding in their letters that the RSPCA opposed all recreational hunting. RSPCA wrote pretty flatly:
The RSPCA is opposed to recreational hunting…
Will the real RSPCA please stand up?
Unfortunately, as we reported last month, the RSPCA changed its legal structure and thus cast doubt over whether its staff could be validly appointed as animal welfare inspectors under Queensland’s Animal Care And Protection Act 2001. Section 114 of that Act and section 9 of the Regulations provide that staff of State-based incorporated associations could be appointed as animal welfare inspectors. The new body corporate for the Qld RSPCA is a Commonwealth-based public company limited by guarantee and not a State-based incorporated association.
Responding to our concerns about the propriety of expressing a universal opposition to hunting while exercising a statutory power and about the validity of some inspector appointments, Dr Woods wrote back to us:
Dr Wood’s letter back to us contains two implicit admissions.
#1 Waving around a statutory power to enforce a political view is wrong
RSPCA is doing the wrong thing by writing letters under a statutory authority and promoting their political views against hunting, even though hunting is legal. Imagine if you had a swimming pool and your local Council wrote to you:
Even though your pool is legal, the Council is opposed to all swimming pools in all backyards, as they are inherently dangerous and cause drownings. You should fill in your pool before the Council looks for reasons to impose fines and penalties.
There would be – quite rightly – public outrage. Jobs would be lost.
#2 Inspectors: “Those made prior to the change remain validly appointed”
It is correct to say that Inspectors appointed before the RSPCA’s structural change remain validly appointed. But a huge grey cloud hangs over Inspectors appointed after the Qld RSPCA’s change to a public company. That’s why Dr Wood’s response only deals with Inspectors appointed before the change. If a person was charged with an offence and the prosecution depended on the actions of an Inspector appointed since the 2016 change then it would be worth considering, in your defence, a challenge in the Magistrate’s Court to the validity of the Inspector’s appointment.
The RSPCA is so busy waving its political policies around that they’ve forgotten to get the basics of their animal welfare practice right. This is the real that the RSPCA runs when it stops doing its actual job and fixates on political campaigns: they forget how to do their actual job. Also, Department of Ag appears to have forgotten how to make valid statutory appointments.
There can be so very much forgetting when you are busy playing politics.