The CHIEF SECRETARY (Hon. H. Ayers) moved the second reading of this Bill. Last session a measure had been introduced to facilitate proceedings being taken against persons having unregistered dogs, and to otherwise remedy slight defects. It did not, however pass, and the Government now sought to introduce a more comprehensive measure, which repealed certain parts of past Acts, as pointed out in the 1st clause. The minimum fine which had been £3 and which had been found to be a hardship leading in many instances to appeals to His Excellency, it was now proposed to reduce to £1, leaving the maximum £6 as at present. It was further proposed to vest the appointment of Registrars, not in the Government and Executive at hitherto, but with the Commissioner of Crown Lands and the various District Councils and Corporations. Perhaps the most important part of the Bill dealt with cases where dogs worried cattle or sheep, and sought to fix ownership and otherwise settle matters of that kind. He should be prepared as the Bill went on to point out any new provisions. The Hon. J. BAKER seconded.
The motion was carried and the Bill was read a second time.
The preamble was postponed, and clauses 1 and 2 were passed as printed.
Clause 3. Interpretation.
The Hon. H. MILDRED would ask whether the words "hunting dogs of the aboriginal inhabitants" would not apply to any kangaroo dogs, as they were the species known as native dogs.
The CHIEF SECRETARY (Hon. H. Ayers) thought that there would be no misunderstanding as to the use and intent of the words.
The Hon. J. BAKER would propose to cut off the exception which allowed for the non-registration of native dogs, and empower the Protectors of aboriginals to register all dogs belonging to the natives, as it was well known that a large amount of damage was done by these animals. But this provision would also be a protection to the natives, who would then know that their dogs were protected and could not be destroyed.
The Hon. J. H. BARROW felt disposed to agree to the proposal, but of course the 5s, fee for registration could not be collected in such cases. (Hear.)
The CHIEF SECRETARY (Hon. H. Ayers) thought there would be great difficulties in ascertaining the ownership; and supposing that the dogs of an aboriginal were without collars, which would be necessary if registered, were they to destroy them, as of course fining was out of the question? This question of the natives' dogs had been often discussed, and the provision of the clause under consideration had been in force before. He thought it undesirable to legislate too closely in this matter.
The Hon. W. MORGAN would support the striking out of the exemption, seeing little difficulty in carrying out the idea of registration by the Protectors. It was well known that the natives took about with them many dogs that could not be called hunting dogs, but were looked upon more as companions.
The Hon. J. BAKER considered that his proposal if acted upon, would really be a protection to the natives, as it would save their hunting dogs from being destroyed; but he would not press it if there appeared a difficulty in carrying it out. In all the settled districts there would be no difficulty in getting the natives to understand what was wanted.
The Hon. T. ELDER would prefer that the clause should stand as printed, as he should be sorry to stand in the shoes of a Protector of the Aborigines who attempted to shoot the dogs of the natives because unregistered. The natives regarded their dogs with peculiar feelings, and in many instances would rather have their lubras killed than their dogs, the destruction of which would cause feelings of revenge that nothing would satisfy.
The CHIEF SECRETARY (Hon. H. Ayers) felt that the difficulties in the way of carrying out the system of registration would be insuperable, and he hoped the Hon. Mr. Baker would not press his views. Collars had been mentioned, and the Act provided that these would be required in case of registration, with the name or number at any rate, &c ; and although there were two Protectors it would be impossible for them to ascertain the number of dogs or the names of owners. This matter had been fully debated in the other House, and the present course was thought the best.
The Hon. J. BAKER was certain that for instance at Lake Albert Mr. Taplin would have no difficulty in registering all the dogs of the whole of the natives in that neighbourhood, and would have no more difficulty than he should have on one of his stations; but he would not insist on this proposal
The Hon. J. H. BARROW imagined that another difficulty might be that they were interfering with the money provisions of the Bill, which might become a question of privilege. It would seem very hard to destroy natives' dogs, but it was also hard to have them destroying the property of their civilized brethren. To meet the difficulty raised by the Hon. Mr. Mildred, he would move the insertion of "belonging to" before the words "aboriginal inhabitants."
The Hon, J, BAKER did not see that this was a question of revenue, and therefore they were not interfering with the other branch of the Legislature; but rather than risk the passing of the measure he would not press his proposal.
The clause was passed as amended.
Clauses Nos 4 to 8 were passed without alteration, and No. 9 postponed for further information to be afforded. No. 10 was then passed.
Clause No. 11. Dog may be substituted for registered dog dying.
The Hon. J. BAKER saw no use in the clause, and thought it might lead to abuse, as a person having an unregistered dog and a registered one might substitute the one for the other when the latter died, and this should not be allowed. He proposed a slight amendment, which was negatived, and the clause was passed as printed.
Clauses 12 to 14. Passed as printed.
Clause 16. Dogs not registered and without collars may be seized and killed.
The Hon. W. MORGAN called attention to the 27th line of the clause, and asked who was to define what was a mongrel, mastiff, or bulldog. He thought there would be a difficulty here.
The CHIEF SECRETARY (Hon. H. Ayers) said the duty of defining what was meant by that particular kind of dog would fall upon the person undertaking the destruction. If a dog was destroyed in mistake, the person who killed it would be liable to a penalty.
Passed as printed.
Clauses I6 to 28. Passed.
Clause 28. Appeal to Adelaide Local Court of Full Jurisdiction.
The Hon. J. BAKER wished to point out that a difficulty would be likely to arise as to what should be considered a dog improperly at large.
The Hon. J. H. BARROW said being improperly at large was not being under the immediate control of some competent person.
The CHIEF SECRETARY (Hon. H. Ayers) said a dog could not be called improperly at large so long as it was on the ground of its owner. If in any street, road, or highway, no doubt it would be; but if it could be said it was improperly at large in a section, it would be so in a drawing-room, garden, or close yard. He would, however, ask the opinion of the Attorney-General upon the matter if it would be satisfactory to the hon. member. There was no question, however, but that no one had a right to destroy a dog if it was in a close.
The Hon. J. BAKER said under some circumstances a dog might be said to be improperly at large in the street if it was ferocious. This should be defined, because some dogs allowed to roam on a section would be dangerous, while others would be perfectly harmless.
The CHIEF SECRETARY (Hon. H. Ayers) said sometimes small dogs were more annoyance at persons' doors than large dogs, but if a neighbours dog came upon their step it would be at large.
The Hon. J. BAKER did not wish to be too severe, but at the same time it should be well understood. In the country a dog might do an enormous amount of damage to sheep, whereas in town it would be harmless. If the law was well defined there would be no complaints when it was carried out rigorously.