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Anti-Cruelty Legislation in Australia


Describe the status of animals under the law and allow them to demonstrate their ability to explain, differentiate, critique and apply the major philosophical debates relating to animals and the law?

The treatment made by human being to any species, is a matter which is having immense importance in recent times .There is a famous book which was published in the year 1975, called Animal Liberation, and this publication had brought huge reciprocation in Australia, as the people are imposed to think deliberately to take this cruel ministrations to animals on hold (Chandra, 2013). The government of United States also performed a pledge to protect their animals and created ninety animal law courses for the universities to conduct awareness through education. The provenance of Australia did not contribute much as compared to United States, as the latter one rose significantly in the scholarly literature on animals, whereas the legal academy of Australia has less inclination on this indispensable subject (Agoramoorthy, 2009). Still Australia had made pivotal move to bestow strong legal scholarship in animal law in many categories, such as territories, commonwealth and states, to monitor animal prosperity and equally entrusting their focus on farming animals and arranging systematic analyzing board. People have taken significant responsibility to get them into right shelter and to protect them from plastics (Chandra, 2013).  The abolition on exploitation of animals for the interest of humans is certainly a topic to be discussed for the awareness of the true idea “human interest over animal interest”. That is the very reason of forming more wildlife sanctuaries.

The states and the territories of Australia has the power to regulate the ’animal welfare’. Though, it is merely mentioned in the constitution of Australia regarding their common wealth role and its significance (Jordan and Kellogg, 1907) but every time, the commonwealth got entrusted with the responsibilities on regulating animal laws and that shows the Australian government should enhance their constitution by adopting more rules for providing animals in more protective sheds.

In the year 1837, the Australia had got its first anti-cruelty legislation which was validated in Van Dieman’s land, continued in New South Wales, which was included in the legislation in 1850. All these legislations had not got the idea to provide sanity to animals and was therefore labeled as an offence especially if any individual would be found guilty of harsh treatment to animals, he shall be punished as per their criminal laws (Leavitt, 1990). So it is clear that the law initially was not based on the foundation as it did not have particular validation on the protection of natural resources. The 1848 revolt in Europe had raised an issue on “sufferance of universe”, targeting the lower class society in the offence of killing animals. Therefore, for not having a separate law for the welfare of animals, legislature had involved many ‘anti-cruelty legislations’ pertaining to criminal laws (Short, 2007). In police Acts, the government of Australia had introduced new legislation for the protecting animals, in 1860s.

Current Regulatory Landscape

Some customs which were predominant before 20th century have been considered devilish activities of human to animals. There were also some practices which involved business and some are for cultural diabolic, they are from killing of animals to branding, dehorning of castles, spaying, castration and, ear-splitting. The era of 1970s and 1980s, had shown some important exclusion from all these evil practices (White, 2012). The Animal care and protection act 2001 has brilliantly demonstrated that the harsh treatment on animals which includes unreasonable pain, circumstances which are unjustified and deformed carcass are legally taken into consideration which at the end of the day is criminal offence to a ‘life’. The enforcement laws, regarding animal welfare is having variation from States to territories. The regulatory methods of Australian authority have three standards of agents, and they are as follows: a departmental authority, the police and the royal society, all based for the “Prevention of Cruelty of Animals” ('RSPCA').  But the responsibility of the police services is limited as they do not entrust much to get general duty on animal laws (Harrop, 2011). They only get a very small unit to investigate the offences concerning cruelty on animals, unlike United Kingdom; police administration has got severe responsibilities to take charge on animal laws as their introduction of various laws on the favor of animals make them strong enough to dealt with any given cases. The RSPCA has divided some jurisdictions to different roles for getting effective enforcement. In one of the example cited here by RSPCA is, in Queensland, the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries have specific agreement to get easy access for understanding. With the joint collaboration of RSPCA and DPI&F, they have introduced a MOU, a subject which enforces different Acts to different locations with expert opinions.

The law that exists in New South Wales is basically known or referred to as the prevention of cruelty To Animals Act 1979.According to this law a person is not entitled to any action of cruelty towards the animal. Often the defense against this act that has countered the law on many instances has been under section s 24(1)(b)(ii) according to which the person charged with the offence will not be guilty if the animal is destroyed with the purpose of food for the consumption of human beings in a manner that is devoid of inflicting no more pain than is necessary towards the aforesaid animal.

Property  has no reference to a thing in particular instead it is an implication of the legal relationship that is existential as a law often referred to as a bundle of rights. The idea that exists pertaining to animal law basically overlooks the fundamental rights of animals when any conflicting human interests are found to exist. The owner of the animals always is given the upper hand when his interests are pitted against the animal so far as benefits are concerned. If there happens to be some proven and justified form of excess exploitation then only the interests of animals are observed.

Dualistic Role of Common Law and Civil Law Traditions

The law and legal system of the most of the western countries are primarily based on the culprit in proving the overall exploitation of the non-human, common law and civil law tradition plays a dualistic role which help to divide the non-human into two distinct normative entities that are person and things. Animal are treated as the thing and more precisely as the property of the individual. Animal laws related to the legal relation in the current law exist among the people. It is evident that there cannot exist a relationship between the thing and person. The status of the animal as property is based on the limited type of the legal protection which is increased to non-human. Under the current law of animal continue to be regarded as item of property, they are included as under the definition of the right for the purpose of the Australian consumer law consumer Guarantees regime nd are interpreted as the proper for the purpose.This is mainly so because in accordance with Yanner v/s eaton(1999), a property happens to exist to serve for a purpose and the laws are made under the assumption that the animals will not be harmed or inflicted more suffering than is necessary mainly because of the fact that excess exploitation of animals will only reduce their lifetime together with quality and value which is a direct loss for the property owner.  The rights of the owners of property which in this case are animals itself are considered if any third party is found to infringe this legal binding and harm the animals.

Animal rights refer to the legal rights those are entitled to the possession of the non-human animals (Arntzenius, 2014). Animal rights are entitled to the fulfillment of the basic interests of the animals ensuring avoidance of suffering. Animal law is taught in most of the schools of Australia. However, critics argue that the animals are incapable of entering into the social contracts. Utilitarianism is a theory that has been entitled to secure the interests of the animals. In animal liberation, it has been mentioned in the law that it is essential to consider the interests of the animals seriously. In other words, it has been argued that the human beings have been failed to consider the interests of the animals at large. It is evident from Singer’s theory of Utilitarianism, that “When people seek to justify the horrific way in which animals are treated, they invariably point to supposed animal defects such as the inability of the animals to utilize human language or to reason as intricately as human beings do.” However, this particular law or legal right entails that human beings should give prior importance and equal importance to the animals. Singer’s theory is more applicable in case of animals than classical animal welfare. Utilitarianism engages the theories in normative ethics that hold proper course of action that maximizes the utility.It is evident that human beings have been failed to give prior importance to the animals just because of specific bias or specialism (Chandra, 2013). The concept of speciesism results into actual devaluation of the interests of the animals. According to Singer, “the notion of equal treatment does not mean that animals receive equal treatment, and it does not preclude the morality of decisions to exploit a human or nonhuman.”

However, with the passage of time, Australia has been entitled to law of Animal Rights and Rescue management of animals. It is evident that the Animal Rights and the Rescue group of Australia carry out the procedures of rescue management of the unwanted and homeless animals. This particular group ensures the right of “equal Consideration” for the street animals and also provides shelter and care facilities for these animals. It is evident from the certain news reports and articles that The Australian Constitutionemphasizes on the animals rights so as to give emphasis on the procedures of animal welfare. It is evident that the standard regulatory approach is deficient in number of cases in Australia (Gibbard, 1984). The Australian anti-cruelty legislation was enacted in the year 1837. This particular entails the consideration of the animal cruelty offences in the criminal laws of Australia.

With respect to the theories of Australian philosopher Peter Singer’s book Animal Liberation, it has been articulated that the lives of the animals are of less importance than the lives of human beings. However, the paradigm lies in the fact that many Australian citizens take into consideration that current animal laws prevailing in Australia ensures animals with adequate protection from human mistreatment, cruel behavior from human beings (JihanLyou, 2008). However, it has been envisaged that the current regulatory framework could be improved. Thus, in order to improve the condition of the animals in Australia, certain legal acts have been enacted. These are as follows:

  • The regulation of companion animals.
  • Dog control legislation.
  • The use of codes of welfare.
  • Australia’s new regulatory regime for live exports.

Animal welfare centers over the physical and the psychological wellbeing of the animals in order to maintain the animal ethics. The Australian Constitution considers that the animals do have a moral right. According to Kantian Theories, it is evident that “both animals and humans have desires that can compel them to action but only humans are capable of standing back from their desires and choosing which course of action to take.”Animals are not autonomous as they are incapable of expressing their will and ability(Pezet, 2014). Therefore, according to Kant, animals do not have intrinsic value. According to Singer’s theories, it has been argued that every animal should get equal consideration and equal interests. It can be contradicted that, somehow plants, animals and human beings are able to take nutrition. But only animals and human beings are having the ability of consciousness. This signifies that plants are inferior to the animals and human rights. Likewise, it can be contrasted that human beings are more and more superior to that of animals and plants as human beings do have the capability of using logics and justification to their conduct whereas animals lack this particular characteristic. So they are often mistreated. It is evident from certain reports and articles that animals lack rationality. Contractualism however provides a view about the assessment of correctness and wrongness of the conduct of human beings towards the animals (Arntzenius, 2014). It is evaluated in certain theories of animal rights that social contracts can only be practiced or taken into consideration by rational persons and those human beings who have moral choice. However, moral choice excludes the consideration of animals into account (Harrop, 2011).

Hence, with the implementation and the enactment of legal rights and norms it has been observed that appropriate actions includes morality and right actions are those which enables the assurance of maximization of the pleasure and minimization of the pain. However, as discussed above it is reflected from the classical Utilitarian theories that human beings feel superior to that of animals, so they find pleasure in killing and affecting animals to a large extent. They find pleasure in exploiting animals for food, clothing, and entertainment, which in turn affect the interests and the rights of the animals (Short, 2007). Therefore, the paradigm lie the fact that animals also have some level of moral values those need to be taken into consideration before affecting the animals in Australia as well as other parts of the world.

To shed light on the fact that utilitarianism is of vital importance, preference utilitarianism is to be taken into consideration. Preference utilitarianism is basically a concept in contemporary philosophy. The concept of preference utilitarianism differs from that of the classical utilitarianism. The concept of preference utilitarianism entails the promotion of the actions with the view of fulfilling the interests of both human beings as well as animals as concerned. According to Bentham, every human being must have a sense of shared sentience which reflects the overview about the sense of equal consideration for both human beings as well as the animals as well (Pezet, 2014). Equal consideration is a concept that the Australian Constitution enacted in order to give equivalent importance to the animals so as the human beings (Short, 2007). But on the contrary, the concept of equal consideration does not take into account a great degree of precision as presently, the utilitarian calculus is trying to maintain a specific level of balance between the minor interests of the human with that of the major interests of animals which centers the aspects of not suffering from the mistreatment from the human beings. Apart from this concept, preference utilitarianism entails that it is justifiable to utilize animals on a wider extent than of human beings. This is so because  human beings do have the advanced mental capacity which the animals do not have (Sidgwick, 2000). So it is beneficial to use animals than that of human beings. In other words, “Abolishing the property status of animals is therefore a strong focus of attention for many animal protection scholars.” It is found in Australia, that people have chosen the way consuming milk from different sources other than animal sources. This signifies that there had been a wider scope of growth in the demand of meat over the few decades. Therefore, it is worthwhile that preference should be given in order to alleviate the sufferings of the animals to a wider context (Harrop, 2011).

According to the Australian philosopher, it has been observed that the interests of the animals are the same so as the interests of the human beings. He has given emphasis on the principles of equal consideration so as vegetarianism which includes factory farming and fur farming.

From the above context, it is made clear that animals should not be made to suffer without any cause or reason. This should be the moral value and the principle of the human beings towards the animals. The concept of utilitarianism entails that every human being must look after the maximization of the pleasure and minimization of the pain (Williams, 2004). Therefore, consuming animal meat is against the law. Singer has suggested human beings to become vegetarian. However, there is a controversy, which underlies the fact that Singer’s theory has an absurd impact on human beings that human beings should eat flesh of another human. His theory is therefore insufficient for vegetarianism.


Hence from the above discussion, it is evident that though the concepts and theories of moral vegetarianism are powerful, still it has certain loopholes. However, it is of vital importance for human beings to go by the animal rights and regulations those have been enacted by the Australian Constitution (Woolley, 1997). Every animal must be given equal consideration so as to enable maximization of pleasure to that of pain.


Agoramoorthy, G. (2009). Enforcement Challenges of Taiwan's Wildlife Conservation and Animal Protection Laws. Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy, 12(3), pp.190-209.

Animal Learning: Learning Laws Repealed. (1972). Nature, 235(5338), pp.366-367.

Arntzenius, F. (2014).Utilitarianism, Decision Theory And Eternity. Philosophical Perspectives, 28(1), pp.31-58.

Chandra, R. (2013). Utilizing Utilitarianism: Animal Rights in Tourism.Tourism Recreation Research, 38(2), pp.255-257.

Gibbard, A. (1984). Utilitarianism and Human Rights.Social Philosophy and Policy, 1(02), p.92.

Harrop, S. (2011). Climate Change, Conservation and the Place for Wild Animal Welfare in International Law. Journal of Environmental Law, 23(3), pp.441-462.

JihanLyou, (2008). The Right-Based Criticisms of Utilitarianism and The Response Strategies of Utilitarianism. Journal of Ethics, 1(70), pp.1-29.

Jordan, D. and Kellogg, V. (1907). Evolution and animal life. New York: Appleton.

Leavitt, E. (1990). Animals and their legal rights. Washington, D.C. (P.O. Box 3650, Washington 20007): Animal Welfare Institute.

Pezet, D. (2014). Review The Animal Code: Giving Animals Respect and Rights Crossman Danny Arcadia Melbourne, Australia. Journal of Animal Ethics, 4(1), pp.112-114.

Short, D. (2007).The Social Construction of Indigenous `Native Title' Land Rights in Australia.Current Sociology, 55(6), pp.857-876.

Sidgwick, H. (2000). Utilitarianism.UTI, 12(03), p.253.

White, S. (2012). Companion Animals, Natural Disasters and the Law: An Australian Perspective. Animals, 2(4), pp.380-394.

Williams, N. (2004). Fears grow about animal rights activists. Current Biology, 14(19), pp.R819-R820.

Woolley, M. (1997). Animal Rights.Science, 278(5338), pp.557a-561.

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