Friday, 15 May 2009

Flying high...for animal welfare

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I have to admit I love the times when I turn up for workshops in the conference rooms of major legal corporations. You see, their offices are high up in high-rise buildings and have wonderful cityscape views.  So I did enjoy the surroundings when I attended Animal Law 101, organised by PALS@PILCH, Lawyers for Animals and voiceless: the fund for animals at Mallesons Stephen Jacques last night.

150 people turned up - needless to say, mostly lawyers -  to hear American super-lawyer, Bruce Wagman, speak in the Animal Law Lecture Series organised by voiceless. 

It was great to say G'day to Glenys Oogjes Executive Director of Animals Australia there. Glenys is one of Australia's most experienced and respected animal advocates. She has held the position of Executive Director at Animals Australia for the past 24 years as well as serving on the RSPCA Victoria Council for 10 years.

The litany of animal suffering was front and centre - together with pictures.  Bruce provided a run down of the situation and the successes and lack of success in the USA.  The situation is little different and sometimes worse in Australia - particularly for farm animals.  Such laws as there are are virtually unenforceable because of industry dominance and governments pandering to industry.  

After the event, I spoke to Graeme McEwen - Chair of the Barristers' Animal Welfare Panel. I asked him that, if animal welfare was to separated from the agriculture portfolios of Commonwealth and State Governments where it now ineffectively languishes, which portfolio should be given responsibility for animal welfare.  Graeme suggested the portfolio of the Attorney-General - predominantly for its ability to enforce its legislative responsibility - and went on to  cite a number of trade and commerce legislative instruments in that portfolio which would be useful.

So - in short - legal personnel, skills, and experience are increasingly coming into the cause of animal welfare.  The situation is so serious that animal suffering, particularly of farm animals, is seen as akin to the slavery situation.  Society worked - and continues to work - to free itself of human trafficking.  Animal welfare is giving every appearance of becoming the next great issue of social justice.  Membership of animal welfare organisations both in Australia and internationally is on the increase.  Awareness is increasing and the awareness of human responsibility to all sentient beings is growing.


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