Faculty of Law


In order of appearance:

Eco-Justice for All: Contextualising

(Professor Rob White, UTAS)

This presentation provides an exploration of three overlapping yet competing approaches to justice. It begins by briefly summarising the ways in which humans categorise, use and harm animals. The presentation then discusses the three basic approaches that singly and collectively contribute to and underpin an eco-justice perspective: environmental justice (humans), ecological justice (environments) and species justice (animals).

Eco-justice is itself a complex notion that incorporates to varying degrees elements from these three justice approaches. Fundamentally, the doing of eco-justice involves weighing up the nature and degree of harm, in specific situations, as this pertains to humans, eco-systems and nonhuman species (including plants).

It is argued that action outcomes and specific interventions can and should only proceed on the basis of detailed knowledge and discussion of these three types of justice, and how they 'fit' together in any given circumstance.

Animals as Beneficiaries of Competition & Consumer Law and Policy

(Associate Professor Alex Bruce, ANU)

This presentation explores whether, and to what extent the Australian Consumer Law ('the ACL') and the economic forces of informed consumer demand that it protects, might advance welfare initiatives for the millions of animals slaughtered in Australia each day for human consumption. Located within the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) ('the CCA') the ACL is not intended to benefit animals, but to enhance the welfare of Australians through the promotion of competition, fair trading and consumer protection.

However in 2011, the Commonwealth Labelling Logic Report into food labelling made certain recommendations that impact on food animal welfare.  The Report recommended that consumer concerns associated with food animals should be regulated through the mechanisms in the CCA and particularly the ACL.

Instead of legislating to prohibit certain animal farming practices, it is intended that market forces in the form of consumer demand will exert up-stream market pressure on primary producers to implement food animal welfare initiatives. In safeguarding this consumer demand, the Commonwealth government intends the ACL will be enforced to prevent misleading or deceptive animal welfare claims made by suppliers.

These initiatives will be explored by reference to recent litigation instituted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission concerning the ACL and animal welfare claims. Particular attention will be paid to the extent to which information disseminated by primary producers can be considered "in trade or commerce" for the purposes of the ACL.

Teaching and Living Animal Law in the US: Lessons for Australia?

(Keynote Address delivered by Professor Marsha Baum, University of New Mexico, USA)

Are there lessons to be learned from an animal law instructor from the U.S. that can benefit the animal law discussion and debate in Australia?

This address will offer the perspective of Professor Marsha Baum from the University of New Mexico on issues as diverse as concerns for chilling effect on speech or academic freedom, proposed resumption of horse slaughter in the U.S., strategic approaches attempted in the U.S. to affect change for non-human animals, and a consideration of whether state law or federal law provides the better opportunity for increased protections in areas such as use of animals in research and treatment of animals in disasters.

The goal of the presentation is to assess the impact that law has on animals in the U.S., to assess the impact that animal law instructors can have on the law, and to assess the impact that teaching animal law can have on a law school instructor in an effort to determine if there are lessons from the U.S. that can help to inform the discussion and debate in Australia.

Indigenous Hunting and Fishing Rights in Australia and the Protection of Endangered Species

(Professor Gary Meyers, UTAS)

This presentation addresses the issue of Indigenous hunting and fishing of endangered and threatened species. Australian legislation is largely ambiguous on this issue and the courts have generally been silent on resolving the potential conflict between Indigenous rights and environmental protection of listed species.

The presentation looks to the jurisprudence and legislation in North America to suggest a regime that preserves Indigenous subsistence and ceremonial uses of species while ensuring endangered species recovery.

Please note: This presentation was based upon an unpublished co-authored paper, written by Prof Gary Meyers and UTAS final year law student, Penelope Owen.

Public Q and A: Live Export and the Law

(Professor Clive Phillips of the University of Queensland and Dr Malcolm Caulfield)

The Q and A will involve an examination of the law governing live export, and a summary of the science relating to heat stress during live export voyages. A key focus will be placed on the relationship between the law and science, and the overall adequacy of the existing legal regime for the protection of live export animal welfare.

The Q and A will be chaired by Voiceless Chief Executive Dana Campbell and consist of a presentation by legal expert Dr Malcolm Caulfield and scientific expert, Professor Clive Phillips.

Dr Malcolm Caulfield

The events of 2012 demonstrated that the Australian public, when confronted with the reality of live export by dedicated animal welfare workers (Lyn White, Bidda Jones) and superb journalists (Sarah Ferguson), are unprepared to accept the cruelty associated with the trade.

While the revelations by Lyn White of unacceptable handling and slaughter practices in Indonesia (and more recently elsewhere) have provided a focus on unacceptable practices in importing countries, nevertheless we must remember that there are serious animal welfare problems associated with the live export voyage itself. The legal process governing the voyage deals only with mortality as an indicator of welfare; this is at best a blunt and misleading tool. What occurs during live export voyages would simply not be acceptable under domestic animal welfare law.

The government entity responsible for looking after the welfare of animals in live export (the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) has shown itself to be unable to exert any meaningful influence over the way exporters deal with live animals and has demonstrated is unwillingness to use the law to protect those animals.

The fixes it has put in place are now failing. This failure is unsurprising, given the same department's role as a promoter of the live export trade. It is hopelessly compromised. As the federal Labor caucus has noted, this situation can only be addressed by putting a truly independent regulator in place.

Professor Clive Phillips

Procurement of research services by the live export industry, with matched funding from government, provides an opportunity to improve the welfare of animals transported from Australia. However, little of the research undertaken has been made public, as identified in a recent review of the topic. An example of how this could be done is the work commissioned on ammonia accumulation, which demonstrated that major welfare problems could be avoided if the concentration on ships was limited to 30 ppm. The revision of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock provides an opportunity to include such standards to enhance welfare, but it also shows up the dearth of published literature on the major welfare issues.

Where work has been undertaken but not published, scientists must be held to account for their actions. Scientists also have to be held accountable for accurate reporting, acknowledging recent evidence that the reporting is influenced by funding agencies. Scientists should not over-reach their brief/capabilities by making recommendations concerning the law themselves, which must take into account the views of the populace and in particular opinion leaders.

Q and A Chair: Dana Campbell, CEO of Voiceless

Dana Campbell, CEO of Voiceless will be chairing the Q and A. Dana has contributed significantly to animal law both in Australia and overseas, having formerly been employed as a senior lawyer for the Animal Legal Defense Fund in the US, and as a public prosecutor specialising in animal cruelty and family violence. She has established and taught animal law courses in the US, and will accordingly bring a wealth of experience and insight to the Q and A.

Workshop: Teaching Animal Law in Australia

(Directed by Professor Nick James of Bond University, with the assistance of Rochelle James)

In 2008, David Weisbrot claimed that within a generation, animal law would be as popular as environmental law is today. It seems timely for us to critically reflect upon the goals, assessment and content of animal law courses.

What is it that we seek to achieve when we teach animal law to law students? Is it no more than a thorough understanding of the law relating to animals? Or are we trying to change the way our students see the world, to inspire them to strive to reform the relationship between animals and the law, and to ultimately modify the relationship between animals and humans?

If it is the latter, what form should the animal law curriculum take? And how can we assess our students to determine if our objectives are being achieved? This workshop will draw upon the knowledge, insights and experiences of participants to identify a set of 'best practice' principles to inform and assist academics in the development and delivery of animal law courses.

Role of Non-Profit Animal Welfare Groups in the Regulation of Animal Protection and the Development and Enforcement of Animal Law in Australia

(Shatha Hamade, Legal Counsel for Animals Australia)

Animal protection groups in Australia are non-government and not-for-profit organisations that represent an extensive continuum of views and positions about the use of animals, and whether such use is considered justified or humane.

All of these groups have a direct or indirect influence on the regulation, development and enforcement of animal law in Australia. Such influence is typically carried out through enforcement and advocacy. Enforcement includes criminal prosecution of perpetrators of animal cruelty and litigation with the goal of changing industry practices in agriculture, research and consumer protection through, for example, holding companies to task for misleading product labelling.

Advocacy takes many forms and is fundamentally about raising public awareness and knowledge about animal welfare issues. This is through direct interaction with the public and with Government and stakeholder groups.

Panel Discussion: Evaluating Tasmania's Animal Welfare & Protection Framework

Chair: Lynden Griggs. Speakers include, Professor Di Nicol, Dr Malcolm Caulfield, Mary Bennett (DPIPWE), Greg Irons (Bonorong), Emma Haswell (Brightside) and Robert Fisher.

The panel discussion will focus on the recent review of Tasmania's Animal Welfare Act, in the context of a broader evaluation of the state of animal welfare and protection in Tasmania.

Issues relating to the adequacy of the investigation, prosecution and punishment of individuals who commit animal cruelty offences in Tasmania will also be covered. In addition, there will be a discussion of institutionalised practices in the farming industry, as well as an evaluation of the effectiveness of the recent partial ban on sow stalls and the proposed phase out of battery hen farming.

Further Information:

The Review is being conducted by the Tasmanian Animal Welfare Advisory Committee and the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment (DPIPWE). The Act was last amended in 2008, following a major review. In 2012, the Committee sought public comment on over 20 proposed changes to the Act which are outlined in a 'Discussion Paper' (available online). Submissions closed in November 2012, with the Committee expecting to provide their recommendations to the Minister in 2013.

Assessment of the Legislative Framework Addressing Factory Farmed Animals and Kangaroos in Australia

(Ruth Hatten, Legal Counsel for Voiceless, the animal protection  institute)

Australia prides itself as a leader in animal welfare. This is a false sense of pride demonstrated by the scale of animal suffering across the nation, in particular the suffering experienced by factory farmed animals and kangaroos subject to commercial trade. Farm animals represent the vast majority of animals in Australia and they are abused on a staggering scale, for the purposes of food and food production. Approximately 500 million suffer each year in Australia. Australia's iconic kangaroos are hunted in the largest commercial slaughter of land-based wildlife on the planet. Almost 90 million kangaroos and wallabies have been lawfully killed for commercial purposes in the last 20 years.

There are laws that purport to protect animals in Australia but, in reality, these laws do nothing more than enshrine animal cruelty. The laws of Australia, as in most common law jurisdictions, classify animals as property. Every state or territory in Australia has something akin to an animal welfare statute; however these laws do nothing to protect the fundamental rights of animals such as the right to bodily liberty or bodily integrity. To the contrary, most farm animals are classified as 'stock' or 'livestock' in the legislation that purports to protect them.

This means that farm animals fall largely outside the protective reach of the legislation either expressly or by implication. Kangaroos are protected fauna under State environment legislation, yet they can be killed under a licence. Trade in factory farmed animals and kangaroos is governed by systems that are inadequate due to lack of enforcement and lack of regulation. Consequently, these animals are legally abused on a widespread basis.

This presentation will provide an overview of the status of factory farmed animals and kangaroos in Australia. It will examine deficiencies in the regulatory frameworks, including the impact of those deficiencies on factory farmed animals and kangaroos.

Intensive Factory Farming: Challenges for the Rule of Law

(Dr Melissa Perry QC)

The rule of law requires adherence to certain fundamental standards including lawfulness, certainty and predictability of outcomes, and the effective and accountable administration and enforcement of laws.

Added to this, the substantive content of law must accord with community standards and expectations. The field of animal anti-cruelty law, no less than any other area of human activity regulated by government, must meet these exacting standards.

However, when measured against these standards, it is apparent that there are serious deficiencies in animal anti-cruelty law in Australia as it applies to intensive factory farming operations.

Workshop: Current Challenges and Future Directions for Animal Law in Australia

(Directed by Steven White, Griffith University)

This workshop aims to explore the current state of animal law in Australia, and to chart challenges and possible future directions in the area. The first part of the workshop will provide an overview of the emergence of animal law in Australia, and globally. The remainder of the session seeks to harness the expertise and perspectives of workshop participants, with smaller groups, guided by some introductory questions, reflecting on a range of areas of relevance to animal law.

Apart from the foundational question of what is meant by 'animal law', other areas to explore include the future of legal education, the relevance of legal research, and community building within and outside the law school/legal profession.