NT Govt bolsters welfare laws in response to Mataranka deaths

Beef Central, 31/10/2012


The recently elected Country Liberal Party Government in the Northern Territory says it has moved to strengthen animal welfare protections in the wake of hundreds of cattle deaths on Mataranka Station in 2009 and 2010.

Between those years, as many as 800 cattle and horses died or were destroyed because of starvation and lack of water at the Charles Darwin University-owned Mararanka Station.

Despite the nature of the deaths no charges have ever been laid in relation to the animal welfare disaster.

An investigation by the Council of Territory Cooperation Animal Welfare Governance Subcommittee earlier this year recommended 21 recommendations to further strengthen animal welfare laws in the Territory.  

NT Local Government minister Adam Giles yesterday announced amendments that address 10 of the 21 recommendations from the report, which he said were developed in reaction "to the bungled handling of the Mataranka Station cattle deaths".

"In 2009 and 2010, between 124 and 800 cattle suffered agonising deaths caused by starvation at Charles Darwin University’s Mataranka Station," Mr Giles said.

"Despite a public outcry, no one involved in the cruelty was held accountable, because the former Labor Government failed to act before the statute of limitations had expired."

Mr Giles said extending the time limit, from 12 months to two years, for commencing animal cruelty prosecutions is one of the key changes to be implemented under the Animal Welfare Act amendments.

“These amendments will assist in ensuring no one escapes investigation and prosecution for animal cruelty in the Territory,” Mr Giles said.

“Other amendments go beyond the recommendations of the CTC report, and they have been introduced to further strengthen the Act and make it more effective.”

Changes to the Act focus on:

  • the role of the Animal Welfare Authority
  • resourcing of the Authority
  • competency of the Authority (i.e. skill, qualifications and experience of staff)
  • provision of appropriate powers to the Authority.

“Further, the changes include a significant increase in penalties. There is now a new three tier system which classifies offences based on severity that will also see new, higher penalty levels for the more severe offences,” Mr Giles said.

“The Animal Welfare Act enforces a person’s ‘duty of care’ for any animal in their care or control.”

For further information about Animal Welfare laws in the NT visit



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