Australia’s strangest laws in all their wonderful, wacky glory
TIME marches on. Alas, our laws do not always keep pace.
A Queensland man learned the hard way this week of the little known offence, "though shalt not move thy Gumtree furniture purchases on public transport" (but rest assured, your public loves you, Fridge Man).
Residents of other states may be surprised to learn of a few quirks in their own laws.
While the winds of legal change have swept through many a state parliament, some rusted on legislation stemming from ye olden days has managed to cling on for dear life.
Like, in South Australia, where its not the method by which you move your fridge but the size of it that could see you slapped with a fine.
Or in Victoria, where if you have a few too many at Friday night drinks, don't even think about clambering aboard your horse and carriage to get home, or you will be charged with drink-driving.
And back in the state renowned for its pests (I refer of course, to the cane toad, not former premier Campbell Newman) it remains illegal to own a rabbit or ferret as a pet.
So, hear ye, hear ye. Here they are Australia's strangest laws in all their wonderful, wacky glory.
In a state renowned for perhaps the worst of all the introduced pests, the cane toad, Queensland is all about legislating against the introduction of any more.
Under the Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002 it is illegal for ferrets to be kept in Queensland as pets.
Under the Act, it is an offence to introduce a ferret into Queensland, feed a ferret, release a ferret or keep a ferret, unless you have a permit to do so.
Permits are only issued to bona fide zoos and wildlife parks.
But if you live in Queensland and are ferret-inclined and thinking of flouting the law, let us tell you, the anti-ferret brigade is deadly serious.
The maximum fine for being busted with one is $60,000.
A recent petition to State Parliament to overturn the ban received little to no support.
Just 46 people signed on.
While we can understand why no one would want the rodent-like creatures in their state, who could refuse a cute little bunny rabbit?
Queensland, that's who.
The take-no-prisoners sunshine state is the only Australian state free of the animal that infamously breeds like, well, rabbits, thanks to a rabbit-proof fence.
Which means, sorry kiddies, bunny rabbit pets are strictly forbidden.
The fine is $44,000 or up to six months in the slammer.
Unless, unlike these guys in Logan a couple of years back, you successfully convince the cops that your giant illegal pet rabbit is actually an overfed guinea pig.
Well, it was worth a shot.
Goat haters, your time is (still) now.
Under the laws that govern Australia's original pastoral heartland, it remains legal in NSW to kill a goat that wanders onto your property. No questions asked.
While we would never advocate such a dastardly act, it remains, in the eyes of the law, entirely legal to slaughter your neighbour's goat if it's on your land without any identifying ownership.
"Any owner, occupier, or person in charge of inclosed land may destroy any goat found trespassing thereon," section 7 of the Inclosed Land Protection Act reads.
But before you go killing goats willy nilly, if said wandering goat is branded, has a collar with its owner's name engraved, an ear mark or an ear tag, it may not be killed. You must return it to its rightful owner, who, these days, should not be too hard to find.
Also in the somewhat draconian Inclosed Lands Protection Act, it remains an offence to leave another person's gate open.
"Any person who enters into or upon the inclosed lands of any other person, and wilfully or negligently leaves open or down any gate or slip-panel, shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding 2 penalty units," the act reads. That's $200 in today's money.
And, in something that may come as quite a surprise to the state's increasingly ubiquitous cat cafes, felines are banned from public areas where food is produced or consumed. Dog lovers rejoice.
There is no specific charge of riding your bike while drunk in Victoria.
But climb aboard your steam engine for the journey home at your peril, because it could land you in the slammer for two months.
A bicycle still falls under the umbrella of a carriage, which, for the purposes of the drink-driving laws, means should you be slapped with a fine if you are drunk on your bicycle, carriage, horse, cattle or yes, steam engine.
It attracts a 10 penalty unit fine (about $1400) or two months in jail.
No word on trams though, so go your hardest.
While we're in Victoria, you can also be looking at two months in jail or 10 penalty units for flying a kite in public or playing a game in public to the annoyance of any person.
Where were you during that Pokemon Go phase last year, laws? Huh?
Ever increasing house sizes must demand ever increasing fridge sizes, right?
Not if you live in South Australia.
Section 58B of the Summary Offences Act 1953 states that you cannot offer to sell or hire a refrigerator, ice chest or similar that has any compartment bigger than 42.5 litres.
The only exceptions are if every door or lid can be easily opened from the inside of the refrigerator, or if it was manufactured or imported into South Australia prior to 1962.
This seemingly odd law apparently came after a spate of fridge-related deaths in South Australia in the early 20th Century.
A spate of fridge-related deaths. Wut?
Why this was only a big enough problem for only South Australia to legislate against is anyone's guess.
Also in the great southern state, you know that part of a wedding where they ask anyone who protests the union to speak up or forever hold their peace? Yeah, nah, you must forever hold your peace.
The Summary Offences Act 1953 states it is an offence to obstruct or disturb anyone trying to get to or leave from any such ceremony or service (same dealio for funerals).
The maximum penalty is a fine of $10,000 or two years in the big house.
People dying in fridges and stopping marriages all over the place? SA in 1953 sounds a bit Bold and the Beautiful-like.
NT is awash with the same ferret bigotry as Queensland, apparently, but very little else.
Because anyone who has been to the Territory can tell you it is quite the lawless state.
Infamously, the state that is the bane of carb lovers everywhere.
Western Australia's oft-cited archaic law is all about the humble potato. Or multiples of them, to be more precise.
For, 'tis but a humble vegetable that should be shared among all.
Section 22 of the Marketing of Potatoes Act bans carrying more than 50kg of potatoes at a time unless you are a member of the Potato Corporation.
Break the law and for a first offence, you can be hit with a $2000 fine. Do it again and it goes up to $5000.
That's some expensive potato chips.
Had something nicked in Tassie and just want it back? Nuh-uh, you're breaking the law to ask for it, if you imply that there will be no police involved if you just bring it back.
If you print or publish one of those, "just bring back my (insert stolen item here) and there will be no questions asked", or you offer a reward for the return of your stolen item, no question asked, you can be hit with a fine of up to five penalty units ($785).
The owners of stolen five-year-old exotic Macaw bird Razz offered $20,000, no questions asked, for his safe return, a practice that is illegal in Tassie.
The owners of stolen five-year-old exotic Macaw bird Razz offered $20,000, no questions asked, for his safe return, a practice that is illegal in Tassie.Source:News Corp Australia
So, not only will you be without your property, you could be a few hunge down the hole, as well.
A similar law exists in South Australia, with a $500 fine.
Of course, with the birth of the internet there has been a wealth of rumours about laws in Australia given weight in the past few years. Some of them, however are sadly untrue.