Defending the kingdom | Issue 15

Defending the kingdom | Issue 15

The animal welfare act amendment bill

The Animal Welfare Act Amendment Bill 2013 is currently passing through Parliament. In response to the potentially significant changes to animal law, an animal law workshop was held at The University of Auckland. Seminars were given by Vernon Tava, David Tong, Danielle Duffield, Arnja Dale, and Katrina MacClennan. Otago’s own animal law group, Otago Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, and Auckland University Animal Rights Group presented on their organisations.

Vernon Tava opened the workshop. He is a solicitor at the Auckland Community Law Centre, member of the Waitematā Local Board of Auckland Council, and board member of SAFE. He has previously worked for The University of Auckland, and the Green Party. Vernon spoke on “Progressive Reform or a Step Backwards? The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill 2013,” and the implications of the proposed amendments to the Act.

Second speaker David Tong is a Master of Laws student at Auckland, solicitor at Auckland Community Law Centre, and Chair of the P3 foundation. He was formerly a solicitor at a major commercial legal firm, High Court Judge’s Clerk, and President of UN Youth NZ. In his presentation, “The Animal Welfare Codes of Welfare,” David explained codes of welfare in detail.

Next was Otago Law (Hons)/BA grad Danielle Duffield, the workshop’s organiser. Danielle is a solicitor for a major commercial law firm in Auckland. She founded Otago SALDF in 2010, the first student chapter of US-based Animal Legal Defense Fund in the Southern Hemisphere, and was President until 2013. Her seminar, “Instant Fines for Animal Abuse? The Enforcement of Animal Welfare Offences and Strategies for Reform” summarised her honours dissertation on the feasibility of an infringement scheme for animal welfare violations.

After lunch was Arnja Dale, a Senior Academic in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare Science at Unitec. Her presentation, “Animal Welfare Prosecutions – what is the Judiciary Saying?” presented her scientific research on penalties for AWA offences.

The last main speaker was Katrina MacClennan. Katrina is an independent barrister, journalist and commentator. Her seminar, “Animal Agenda Aotearoa – Vote Animals in 2014,” provides a unifying cause for animal campaigners leading up to the 2014 election.

While the qualified lawyers held a planning session, the students took over. Otago SALDF President Dusty Pearson presented on his organisation, parent organisation ALDF, and the work Otago SALDF does here at Otago.

Lastly, Auckland Uni Animal Rights Founding Co-Presidents Niccola Davies and Avril McIntyre took over to present on and promote their up-and-coming organisation. The group holds regular vegan sausage sizzle fundraisers, and has devoted themselves to reducing the killing of rats at Auckland Uni by 20 per cent by 2015, down from the current 10,000 per year by removing rat dissection from first year biology.

The workshop was a great step forward for the rapidly growing field of animal law.
This article first appeared in Issue 15, 2014.
Posted 6:52pm Sunday 13th July 2014 by Dusty Pearson.