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Submission to the Select Committee in relation to the

operations of the Royal Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals Western Australia (Inc)
3 July 2015

The Animal Law Institute is a not for profit community legal centre
that is dedicated to protecting animals and advocating for their
interests through the Australian legal system.

3 July 2015

Ms Samantha Parsons
Committee Clerk
Select Committee into the Operations of the
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals Western Australia (Inc)
Legislative Council
Parliament House, GPO Box A11
By email:

Dear Ms Parsons
Submission to the Select Committee regarding the inquiry into the operations of the Royal Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Western Australia (Inc)
1. The Animal Law Institute (ALI) welcomes the opportunity to make this submission to the Select
Committee (Committee) as part of the inquiry into the operation of the Royal Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Western Australia (Inc) (RSPCA WA).
2. According to the terms of reference, the Committee is examining the operations of the RSPCA
WA and in particular, the funding from the government, the RSPCA WA’s objectives, and its use
of power.
Executive Summary
3. ALI submits that, as the RSPCA WA is a private incorporated entity and not a public body, it is
inappropriate for the Committee to make recommendations regarding the RSPCA WA’s
functions – particularly its advocacy, educational, fundraising or lobbying activities - to the
extent that they fall outside of the terms of any agreements between the RSPCA WA and the
Department of Food and Industry WA (Department).
4. This Select Committee is investigating concerns by a number of members of parliament about
the advocacy, educational and lobbying activities of the RSPCA WA. Of particular concern, is the


alleged failure by the RSPCA WA to adequately represent the interests of stakeholders within the
agricultural industry.
5. ALI respectfully submits that unless the contractual agreements between the Department and
the RSPCA WA include requirements with respect to these specific matters, it is inappropriate
for the Committee to be commenting on such matters.
6. The Committee’s examination of the RSPCA WA’s functions and activities should be confined to
enforcement functions which are delegated to the RSPCA WA and dealt with through the
contractual arrangements between the RSPCA WA and the Department. In the event that there
is animosity between the RSPCA WA and the Department, ALI thinks it is appropriate for both
parties to work collaboratively to resolve those concerns.
RSPCA WA’s structure
7. RSPCA WA is legally required to operate according to high standards of transparency and
accountability as outlined below.
8. Firstly, the RSPCA WA is an incorporated not for profit association. As such, it is accountable to
its members in accordance with its Rules of Incorporation (Rules). The RSPCA WA’s Rules outline
that its purposes are to “promote animal welfare and kindness to animals, prevent or suppress
cruelty to animals [and] do all such lawful acts as the Society may consider conducive or
incidental to the attainment of these Purposes.” Similar to other incorporated associations, the
Rules grant the RSPCA WA the power to do any lawful acts which are necessary, incidental or
conducive to the attainment of its purposes. In addition, the RSPCA WA or its officers shall
exercise any additional powers for law enforcement purposes dealing with the prevention of
cruelty to animals, animal welfare, animal management, and other consistent laws.
9. Secondly, the RSPCA WA is also subject to the same legislated accountability and transparency
requirements that other incorporated not-for-profit associations must comply with. For
example, all incorporated associations registered in Western Australia must submit to its
members each year full financial statements (Associations Incorporation Act 1987 (WA) s 26).
10. Thirdly, the RSPCA WA is also subject to a suite of legislative governance and reporting
requirements by virtue of its organisational structure and its registration as a charity under the
Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.
11. Accordingly, given the minimum standards required under this regulatory framework, the RSCPA
WA must uphold high standards of accountability and transparency to maintain its not-for-profit


status. There have been no suggestions to date that the RSPCA WA has failed in any way to meet
the standards of accountability and transparency it is legally required to meet.
RSPCA WA’s enforcement powers
12. The RSPCA WA’s inspectors are conferred with powers to police contraventions of WA’s animal
cruelty laws. ALI understands the enforcement of the cruelty provisions under the Animal
Welfare Act 2002 (WA) has been effectively delegated to the RSPCA WA through its inspectors.
13. To govern this relationship, the RSPCA WA and the Department have entered into a grant
agreement and a memorandum of understanding, which addresses how the RSPCA WA is
expected to carry out its enforcement powers in consideration for funding from the Department.
In addition, ALI notes that the RSPCA WA’s annual income from government grants in FY2014
was reported to be $500,000.1 In the context of a reported income of $7,626,894,2 this
government funding counts for a mere 6.5% of the RSPCA WA’s total income.
14. ALI has not had the benefit of reviewing these agreements. However, ALI envisages that these
agreements would include minimum service standards and mechanisms available to the
Department to handle any concerns about the RSPCA WA’s performance. If these mechanisms
are not available, ALI envisages that it is in the best interests of both parties to work closely
together to resolve any concerns. Therefore, ALI respectfully submits that any concerns raised
about the RSPCA WA’s performance, or use of its enforcement powers, would be best handled
via private consultation and negotiation.
15. ALI respectfully submits that if the Committee is to make any recommendations regarding the
operation of the RSPCA WA, these recommendations are limited to the delegated functions
covered by these agreements. It is inappropriate for the Committee to make recommendations
that are outside of the scope of a contractual relationship that is formed in the funding
agreements that the RSPCA WA and the Department negotiate. The principles of contractual
fairness dictate that it is appropriate for the Department, and by extension, any public body or
parliamentary committee, to only hold the RSPCA WA accountable to those contractual
obligations it has entered into.
16. Lastly, ALI notes that on the Department’s website, it acknowledges that the “RSPCA may have
or advocate policies that differ from those of the Western Australian Government. However, the

RSPCA WA Annual Report 2014, page 43, available online:
RSPCA WA Annual Report 2014, page 43, available online:


RSPCA separates their compliance and enforcement role and policies from their other policies.” 3
ALI respectfully submits that the Committee should also respect the RSCPA WA’s liberty to carry
out its non-enforcement related activities in accordance with the organisation’s purposes and
the interests of its members – not the interests of any other unrelated third parties such as the
agricultural industry.
Yours sincerely

The Animal Law Institute Inc.


Department of Agriculture and Food, Enforcing the Animal Welfare Act, 19 June 2015, available at: