5 Bizarre Laws that Can Land You in Jail in Australia

There are some very strange activities that are still considered criminal behaviour in Australia.

Updated on 26 February 2014.

kangaroo looking at child in pram

Australian legal history contains plenty of examples of laws that were so strange they had to be repealed, but what many people don't realise is that there are still plenty of these weird old laws that are still technically on the books.

Many of the strangest laws came about as a result of the way the legal system is designed. It is based on the traditional British common law system, which allows the interpretations of individual judges to set precedent for how the laws created by politicians should be understood and used in the future.

Any ruling made by a judge, no matter how idiosyncratic or eccentric their ideas might be, has therefore helped to shape the laws and punishments that are on the books today.

Another reason why the Australian law books accumulated a lot of strange laws is that the country is subject to nine different legal systems, one at the federal level, and seven more covering each of the different states and territories.

This has enabled different parts of the country to institute their own laws that might once have made sense in a local context, but which just seem crazy today.

Although efforts have been made to get rid of some of the more outdated and outrageous laws, there are plenty of these weird, old laws that are still technically valid, and therefore, could get you arrested.

1. You can't lie if you're in politics

According to a law in Queensland, it is illegal for a politician to lie, so if you plan to take up a political career in Australia, you may have to cope without this common political tactic.

The law was actually abolished in 2006 by a government that must not have minded seeming suspicious, but it was then reinstated in 2012.

2. You can't wear a strapless dress, if you're a man

Men in Melbourne are specifically prohibited from wearing a dress that doesn't have any straps, although apparently the person who wrote this law had no problem with either women in strapless dresses, or men whose dresses had straps.

The absurdly specific nature of this law seems to suggest that it might have been a fashion statement rather than a moral stance. Clearly, someone had strong opinions about how men should wear dresses.

That said, if you're a man that's planning on dressing up down under, saving your strapless number for back home could be worth it just in case...

3. You can't change a light bulb

If you need a new light bulb fitted, you'll have to call in a licensed electrician if you're in Victoria, because it is actually still illegal for anyone else to attempt this, even in their own home.

This law seems to date from the days when electricity was a terrifying new phenomenon and changing a light bulb was a dangerous operation that could end up burning the whole neighbourhood down.

Strangely it is still on the books, so be careful who's around when you put in a new bulb. Any overly eager cops in the room could decide to arrest you.

4. You can't share an internet meme

Sharing a meme is in fact illegal according to the crazy copyright laws that are still in place in Australia.

The laws were introduced long before the invention of the internet, and have never been updated or adapted.

This is the case even though they lack the sorts of clauses that have been written into laws in other countries such as the US to allow you to make fair use of material like that video of the cute cats that you wanted to share with your friends.

5. You can't crush a beer can between your breasts

Exercising your muscles as you recycle might get you in trouble if you are a woman with the unusual talent of being able to crush beer cans with your breasts.

It is illegal to do this in Western Australia, and it can actually lead to arrest.

A barmaid in Pinjarra was arrested, tried and find a thousand dollars for showing off this trick in public.

If she'd inspired a meme by putting it online, she could have turned a lot of other people into criminals too.

Written by at money.co.uk

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