Legislation LOLs

Here at ANU Law, we hear a lot of talk about law reform. From anachronistic laws with impenetrable drafting, double negatives and sentences running for paragraphs, to provisions which offend our modern sensibilities and sense of social justice, there is certainly a lot of work to be done when it comes to updating legislation. However, there are some salacious sections which we believe are just too good (or bad) to be true. So, for your reading pleasure, we present our top five wow-react inducing legislative provisions.

Section 26, Government Procurement Act 2001 (ACT)

The section itself isn’t that interesting (it defines ‘notifiable amendment’) but the example it uses is. The example used to explain the definition reads in part ‘The consideration for a contract between the Territory and Acme Pty Ltd for the supply of road runner retention devices is $240,000.’ Is Andrew Barr actually Wylie Coyote? We may never know.

Section 7, Inclosed Lands Protection Act 1901 (ACT)

Another gem from our fair capital is this section, entitled ‘owner may destroy goats’, allowing owners or occupiers of inclosed lands to ‘destroy any goat found trespassing thereon.’ Although we know what they mean by ‘destroy’, as with the use of Acme explosives in the example above suggests, the ACT Legislative Assembly seems to have an unhealthy obsession with destruction. Also, this is a terrible use of goats – we all know that goats in university petting zoos are the cure to depression and anxiety. ‘Donate, don’t destroy’ should be the by-word for anyone lucky enough to find a goat on their property.

Section 22, Marketing of Potatoes Act 1946 (WA)

Well, this one might mark the end of fruitful Costco trips for Western Australians. Under s 22, it is illegal to be in possession of a quantity of potatoes exceeding 50 kg. Whether this includes being in possession of 50 kg of Maccas French fries remains to be seen.

Section 21, Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA)

Illuminati uncovered! If you want to be in possession of a prescribed weapon under the Summary Offences Act, the key is apparently to be a Freemason. Freemason organisations are exempt from an offence under the Act concerning the possession or use of a prohibited weapon. But fear not, if you’re a Freemason you can still use your weapons for ‘traditional ceremonial purposes’. Want to rob a bank? Easy! Become a Freemason and make it a ritual, and you’re good to go.

Section 50, Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA)

Is there anything more fun than ringing doorbells? If you’ve ever listened to Collette’s 1979 hit, which we consider an ode to this hilarious, enjoyable activity, then you’ll know the answer is no. But don’t drop out to devote more time to this thrilling pastime loved by pranksters worldwide just yet: in South Australia, it’s illegal to ring a doorbell without reasonable excuse.