What do exotic animals have to do with Council
You have probably heard about Bankstown City Council banning exotic animals on Council property. There has been a lot of debate about whether or not this should happen, animal welfare vs freedom of commerce, but what I have been thinking about is why does it fall to the Local Council to do this?
Who controls local government?
We previously discussed who has responsibility for what when the local councils were being amalgamated. The short answer is the Federal Constitution decides what the Federal Government can do, the State Government gets everything else. The State Government allocates some of these responsibilities to the Local Councils. You can read more about that by reading our article on who controls local government?
Who is in charge of animal welfare?
So who controls animal welfare? By default probably the State government. Animal welfare was not exactly a popular concern when the Federal Constitution was drafted, and still today it isn't a popular enough cause (if measured by how many votes it might get you) and so it tends to fall into the gaps. In our system, falling into the gaps means that it is the State Government's responsibility.
So why are the local councils starting to bring in laws about exotic animals? Penrith Council tried it very briefly but was shouted down by some of the local businesses and reversed their decision.
Australia's state and territory governments have primary responsibility for animal welfare and laws to prevent cruelty. The Federal Government responsible for trade and international agreements relating to animal welfare.
Councils are doing it under their powers to grant Development Applications or licenses to businesses. They don't have a right to make laws about the welfare of exotic animals per se, but they do have a right to control the behaviour of the circus because they are a business and they need Council Approval to operate in the Council area. What is a little confusing about the Bankstown situation is they elected to only apply their restriction to Council property, so actually if you could find a private land owner with enough space you could run your circus with exotic animals in the Bankstown Local Council area.
So what does it all mean?
What this shows you is that Local Council and the State Government can involve themselves in a large number of things that you wouldn't naturally expect. If you find yourself in trouble with Local Council, or if you are trying to do something that you think Local Council might object to, you should speak with Bruce Coode. He has been dealing with Councils for over forty years, acting both for and against them, and he has also been running a business in the local council area for over 35 years.
If you would like to receive more information on the topic of local council then you can read some of our other articles. If you would like to receive more articles like this then you could join our mailing list, we send out email newsletters about once a month.