IGPA Research Seminar Series

Of Foxes and Hen Houses: The Democratic Deficiencies of Animal Welfare Policymaking in Australia

Thu 1 June 2017Dr Jed Goodfellow / 12:00pm-1:00pmThe Dryzek Room (22B13), Building 22, University of Canberra

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Australia is widely known for being a nation of ‘animal lovers’, boasting one of the highest rates of companion animal ownership in the world. It is also home to a significant livestock sector, worth some $19 billion to the national economy and employing many thousands in rural and regional areas of the country. Ethical questions concerning the treatment of animals evoke strong emotions and opinions. Deep-seeded values shaped by a multitude of demographic and personal factors influence the way in which individuals see animals and their place in the world relative to human beings. To some, animals are simply objects for human use; to others, they are our moral equivalents worthy of fundamental rights to life and liberty. It is due to this contention that public policy decision-making processes must be carefully considered. A scientific foundation is important, but so too is the need for such processes to be fair, inclusive, and democratic. This paper will examine the dynamics of the animal welfare policymaking process in Australia drawing on empirical research data from a series of case studies on animal welfare standard-setting and semi-structured interviews with responsible policymakers in state, territory, and federal jurisdictions. It finds that Australia’s current approach to animal welfare policy development fails on a number of democratic grounds. In particular, the control exerted by the agriculture policy community has led to standard-setting processes that are exclusive – both scientifically and ethically – resulting in standards that consistently fail to meet the broader citizenry’s normative expectations regarding the treatment of animals.


Dr Jed Goodfellow is a Senior Policy Officer at RSPCA Australia with a focus on legislative and regulatory issues affecting animal welfare. Jed has taught Animal Law at Macquarie University on an annual basis since 2012 and recently completed a PhD examining the animal welfare regulatory framework within the Australian agricultural sector. Prior to undertaking his postgraduate research, Jed practised as a prosecutor for RSPCA South Australia, a solicitor for commercial law firm Clayton Utz, and an inspector for RSPCA Queensland.

The IGPA Research Seminar Series is convened by Dr Paul Fawcett.

This event is free to attend and no registration is required. You are welcome to forward this invitation to any interested guests.

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