ACADEMIC INTEREST in the field of animal law moved a step further this week with the launch of Australia's first animal law textbook, by former justice of the High Court, Michael Kirby.
The book, Animal Law in Australasia, is timely, given that nine Australian universities are this year offering animal law subjects to law students. That number is up from just two courses that were available in 2008.
Edited by Steven White of Griffith University and Peter Sankoff of the University of Auckland, the book was launched at the third annual Voiceless Animal Law Lecture Series currently taking place at universities and law firms across Australia.
Justice Kirby said the book was "highly provocative, upsetting, energising, angry and rational," particularly in its description of intensive farming practices. He said the book looks at opportunities for legal reform around animal welfare, by dealing with some of the theoretical issues of changing legal attitudes and how such attitudes have evolved in previous social justice movements.
"When, in the 19th Century, people said 'You're not going to be able to change the laws around slavery, you're not going to be able to remove the cruelty to slaves', a great civil movement began," he said.
"You can't say nothing can be done because, with enough knowledge and passion from the people, things can be done and slavery is the paradigm this book suggests is available for dealing with animal reform."
For more on the Voiceless series, and a review of the book Animal law in Australasia, see next week's edition of Lawyers Weekly
- Angela Priestley