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 Breaking the Law in WA
 Posted: Feb 11 2018, 02:51 PM

Dentus Chookus

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The weird and wonderful ways you can still break the law in WA

By Jacob Kagi

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Photo: There are all sort of strange ways you can get intro trouble with the law in WA. (Flickr: Steven Depolo)

Did you know a wager between friends on a state election result could, technically, see you face a hefty fine? So could trying to work out how to get your friend elected over a beer at the bar.

Even worse, sneaking a look at your friend's ballot paper if they are voting next to you on election day could — in theory — see you thrown in jail for a year.

Those are just some of the anomalies contained in Western Australia's enormous statute book, comprising the laws that govern how we live.

They cover the basic tenets of our lives — prohibiting murder and stealing and all the other basics — but hidden in the many thousands of pages are quirky laws few would know existed.

So, what are some of the more unusual laws still in place in WA?

Politics at the pub

Imagine you are a candidate at a state election and you want to discuss your campaign strategy with your advisors over a pub lunch.

It sounds perfectly reasonable and is undoubtedly something that would be commonly done.

But, in theory, it could end up being a very expensive meal.

The Electoral Act prohibits any "committee meeting held for the purpose of promoting or procuring his election" at a licensed premises, with the penalty a $6,000 fine.

You also can't put a polling station at the pub, because drinking and voting just aren't supposed to mix, for some reason.

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Photo: It's hard to see how drinking and politics could ever be a bad combination. (ABC News: Jacob Kagi)

Disrupting Parliament

Occasionally, when an issue proves divisive enough, a crowd of people will head into State Parliament's public gallery and express their opinions through chanting or yelling.

Normally they will be told to stop and, if they continue, will be escorted from the chamber by the parliamentary security.

By the letter of the law, though, those people could end up facing far more severe punishment.

The Criminal Code allows for people who disrupt Parliament to be jailed for three years or fined $12,000.

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Photo: Protesting outside Parliament House is generally fine. (ABC News: James Carmody )

No Sunday fun

Sunday sporting events, and other forms of entertainment, became commonplace many years ago.

But a 1979 piece of legislation prohibits forms of "public entertainment or amusement" on Sundays, Christmas Day or Good Friday if money is being made from the event.

It is open to the government of the day to make exceptions but, if the responsible minister wished to do so, they still have the power to ban all forms of paid Sunday entertainment.

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Photo: The Western Bulldogs and North Melbourne played the inaugural AFL Good Friday match last year. (Joe Castro: AAP Image)

Shopping confusion

Whether and when shops should open on Sundays has long been a source of division within the community, with the law also adding plenty of confusion into the mix.

Most retailers are barred from trading before 11am on Sundays, something the previous government planned to change but never implemented.

While those restrictions still exist, exemptions exist for what are called "domestic development shops" — places that sell specific kinds of items — and that is what allows a store like Bunnings to open earlier.

Government regulations state the items for purchase that would make a store fall into that category, including such random items as:

gardening and camping equipment
computer cables
non-electrical kitchenware
garden-related books and video cassettes

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Photo: Only a few types of stores can open early for Sunday trading in WA. (ABC News: Rebecca Trigger)

Election wagering

Betting on the results of an election is big business, with some bookmakers offering markets for the outcome for individual seats and parties as well as the overall result.

Plenty of people will also make wagers with friends or acquaintances on the outcome of an election.

But, according to the Electoral Act, that is illegal and you could be punished for it.

The penalty for wagering on an election is a fine of up to $1,000.

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Photo: A pollies' pokie machine would not be allowed under the letter of the law.

[b]The ultimate power of a Fisheries officer[/b]

"Department of Fisheries officer" might not sound like the most powerful job in the world, but legislation in WA provides them with incredibly broad authority.

If a fisheries officer believes they need your help to provide any assistance considered necessary and you refuse, you face a $10,000 fine.

There is no limit on what that could involve, beyond it being "reasonably necessary".

They have the power to seize money, fish, fishing gear and even boats or aircraft they suspect to be involved in any illegal fishing activity.

They can also order a train or aircraft to stop, again if they suspect illegal fishing activity, while anyone who provides an officer with a false name faces a $10,000 fine.

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Photo: You don't want to get on the wrong side of this lady. (Supplied: Department of Fisheries)

Other anomalies

Plenty of other laws remain in place in WA despite their use having long expired.

For example, one act permits the Treasurer to spend 606,945 pounds (yes, pounds) to obtain and supply "settlers fencing wire and wire netting" in the 1920s.

In another quirk, government regulations explicitly state that anyone who is not on an official list of judges approved by the Royal Agricultural Society is prohibited from judging any competition at an agricultural show.

And while challenging someone to a duel is most commonly seen in old movies these days, WA law still explicitly prohibits it — with a penalty of two years in jail.

When Mr Bumble said, "The law is a ass." he must have been reading the WA statute book.

“If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

“All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low.” - John Wooden
 Posted: Feb 11 2018, 03:28 PM


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All the laws which can be broken, and our politicians are guilty of the worst offence against Australians, ignoring The Constitution Of Australia becoming a private corporation with an Australian Business Number without approval from the Australian voting public.

When you can't make then see the light make them feel the heat.
Henry Ford

The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has it's limits
Albert Einstein
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