Barristers Weigh Into Pig Cruelty Debate

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23rd November 2009, 02:48pm - Views: 1225

People Feature Barristers Animal Welfare Panel 1 image

23 November 2009




60 Minutes expose ‘The Hidden Truth’ 

about the plight of the intensively confined sow

Two key points arise from the 60 Minutes expose last night, ‘The Hidden Truth’, on the

inhumane confinement of sows in gestation stalls and farrowing crates.

First, Liam Bartlett’s statement that such confinement and treatment is permitted by the ‘Pig


How is this so? Because state animal protection statutes sanction ‘codes of practice’ – usually

favouring the interests of producers over animal welfare – as a defence or exemption from

prosecution under the Act. Such enduring close confinement would ordinarily fall within one

of the state act’s cruelty offences

As such confinement complies with the relevant code of practice, however, the Act does not


Second, who is responsible for creating these codes: the same people who are responsible

overwhelmingly for the administration and enforcement of animal welfare laws in Australia,

namely, federal and state departments of agriculture. Codes are produced by the self-styled

‘Animal Welfare Committee’ within the Australian Primary Industries Ministerial Council

system (federal and state agriculture ministers). This ‘animal welfare committee’ (with no

animal welfare representation) produces national model codes. These codes are then

incorporated into the state animal protection legal regime. 

Panel Chair, Graeme McEwen, said:

In the administration of animal welfare in Australia, federal and state departments of agriculture suffer from

the most obvious conflict of interest. It is because they are in charge of animal welfare that the pig industry is

permitted to treat sows in this manner, or the egg industry for example is permitted to produce eggs from

battery hens.

Further comment: Graeme McEwen, Chair, Barristers Animal Welfare Panel (03)

9225 8901 or 0419 001 212.

The Barristers Animal Welfare Panel comprises some 90 barristers (including some 25 silks

from the commercial and criminal bars) of the Victorian bar and has addressed a national

agenda since its inception some three years ago. It is shortly about to go national as a body

of members from the various state Bars around Australia.

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