“The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. – Ayn Rand
What ever happened to the good old days when idiots who came up with stupid ideas were laughed at or ignored? Now they usually have a substantial research grant and regarded as authorities on various subjects.
Some time ago the issue was raised here of an Australian research lecturer Dr John Hadley from the University of Western Sydney (UWS) calling for a system of land rights to be established for animals.
Hadley said under his proposal, particular animals would be given legal property rights, and human guardians would be appointed to represent them in court, claiming giving animals legal ownership of their habitat might be the key to protecting biodiversity. He said people who wanted to modify habitat on their property would have to negotiate with guardians through an independent tribunal before taking any action.
An episode of the ABC production, Landline, is quite revealing of the way lawyers are moving into animal litigation, which appears to be the new litigation area of the future:
SHAUN MURPHY, REPORTER: At the University of Sydney, these law students are learning about property trust for companion animals. But as part of their final-year elective, they'll also cover issues directly related to Australian agriculture.What we appear to have here is the situation where lawyers have seen potential income in vast quantities coming from the area of animal activism and are moving in for the kill. Essentially they are riding the animal welfare extremism bandwagon to lobby for laws that will result in the sort of feeding frenzy that other litigatory areas have given them in the past.
CELESTE BLACK, UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY: We talk about the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and similar acts across the states. We look at free range - so standards for something to be technically called free range, and just used it as a bit of a comparison, talk about enforcement issues. We also are going to spend - because of the amount of interest in the issue, we're also going to spend a class looking at the live export.
SHAUN MURPHY: There are now nine Australian universities, soon to be 10, teaching animal law to the nation's future lawyers.
Interest in animal law extends well beyond Australia's university law schools. It's now a growing field of legal practice, with specialist law firms. There's even a former High Court judge now acting as patron of an animal rights group. It's early days yet, but it's going to have major implications for farming.
Peter Stevenson is a lawyer and lobbyist with Compassion in World Farming. He's been in Australia as a guest of the animal rights group Voiceless. At this lecture for the Law Society of New South Wales, he's explaining how the law has been used to drive major reforms in Europe, such as enshrining in law that farm animals be treated as sentient beings. …