The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:38): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Attorney-General on the topic of the Surveillance Devices Act 2016, and animal welfare prosecutions.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: The RSPCA South Australia has recently received independent legal advice that video footage that was taken covertly by unknown persons at a greyhound training property in Lewiston would likely be assumed inadmissible for any criminal proceedings due to the footage being obtained in contravention of our state's Surveillance Devices Act 2016.
That footage was purportedly taken on 6 July 2022 and provided to Greyhound Racing SA on 23 August 2022 via an email from an unidentifiable account. Greyhound Racing SA has successfully applied to the Supreme Court to be able to use the footage for its internal disciplinary proceedings; however, of course, the bar for admissibility of evidence for criminal proceedings is much higher.
Any attempts at a successful prosecution for this alleged live baiting offence under South Australia's Animal Welfare Act is entirely dependent on the use of this video footage that does appear to depict live baiting. This is hindered on the likelihood that the footage obtained may be deemed to be taken improperly and unlawfully under the Surveillance Devices Act, as its provenance is unknown. This has provided an additional avenue to have it excluded from it being considered in any trial.
Understandably, the law of provenance imposes that evidence and documents should be carefully documented, tracked and stored from the moment they are collected or generated. This helps prevent tampering, loss or contamination, and ensures that the evidence can be properly authenticated and accepted as reliable in legal proceedings.
The RSPCA of South Australia has made several unsuccessful attempts to obtain the cooperation of the anonymous person who took the footage, but they have not responded to the organisation's requests. It is now unlikely that the RSPCA will be able to proceed with a criminal prosecution against these trainers, despite them being found guilty by Greyhound Racing SA of breaching the association's Rules of Racing and the life bans that have been imposed. My questions to the Attorney-General are:
1. Has the Attorney-General considered the implications of the Surveillance Devices Act in terms of exposing animal cruelty and protecting animal welfare?
2. Is it acceptable that filming a crime itself has now been criminalised when it comes to animal welfare?