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Students lead push for livestock export ban

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Words
Sharlene King
Published
1 June 2011
The Southern Cross University Animal Law Club is calling for an end to Australia’s export of live animals following the release of footage showing the brutal mistreatment of beef cattle in Indonesia.

The club has been actively campaigning against the industry during the Humane Campus Challenge, being run by the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

SCU Animal Law Club president and founder Anna Ludvik said Australia’s live animal export trade must cease immediately in favour of chilled and frozen meat.

“I’m not really willing to compromise at this stage. The footage we have seen has shown enough is enough. No more excuses,” said Anna, who is studying a graduate Bachelor of Laws.

“Accepting a phase-out scares me. Historically in animal protection law people talk about a phase-out until the issue dies down and then bury it under the carpet.

“I don’t want to see another issue as important as this get buried.”

Anna was relieved the cruel practices associated with live animal slaughter are finally resonating with all Australians.

“What I’m hoping is that people begin to understand how much an animal suffers through these kinds of practices. Animal protection advocates have been talking about animal cruelty in this and other industries for a long time but to have that visual image I think makes people understand that suffering is not only for humans,” she said.

“What baffles me is why we are doing it in the first place. It’s to Australia’s detriment that we export these animals: loss of profits for Australia, closure of abattoirs, the threat to regional communities as we lose jobs in abattoirs.

“I hope people begin to also look at things like the intensive farming industry and begin to realise that this is intolerable cruelty for an animal as well.

“We have a responsibility to the animals we domesticate and make dependant on our care that they have good welfare from birth to death.”

The eight universities taking part in the WSPA Humane Campus Challenge to end Australia’s live animal export industry have been collecting signatures from students and community members to send to local members of parliament.

SCU Animal Law Club vice president Emily Williams said the challenge ends on June 5 and Southern Cross University was in the lead with Sydney University.

“It’s great that as a smaller regional university we can be neck and neck with Sydney University which is just a huge university,” said the law and social science student.

“It shows there is so much support for this issue around this area.”

Animal welfare and protection was emerging as a significant social justice issue and last year the Southern Cross University School of Law and Justice responded by introducing a specialist Animal Law unit.

Head of the School of Law and Justice Professor Rocque Reynolds said it was an exciting time for students.

“It’s a way for them to get involved with the political process and it invites everyone to reflect on the relationship between humans and animals, which is really the pointy end of a lot of issues today,” said Professor Reynolds.

Meanwhile, School of Law and Justice associate lecturer Alessandro Pelizzon said worldwide there was a growing trend for countries to recognise the rights of plants and animals in their constitutions.

Mr Pelizzon said nature had long been considered an object of rights but that was changing with a new branch of law called Earth Jurisprudence.

"Rather than looking at nature simply as a passive object we’re now trying to see earth as a series of interconnected systems and we’re trying to coordinate legal systems with these earth systems,” he said.

“Earth Jurisprudence sees nature not as a passive recipient but argues for recognition of legal subjectivity for nature itself.

“As a result, the rights of the tree or the animal, for example, would be balanced out against other rights.”

Photo: SCU Animal Law Club president and founder Anna Ludvik and vice president Emily Williams with some of the signatures they have collected calling for Australia to stop to the export of livestock.

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