#Law Reform
Law students, legal profession, politicians, animal rights organisations

To many the appointment of a Commissioner for Animal Affairs may appear to be radical, in much the same way as the abolition of slavery and the recognition of gender equality has at other points in history. There is a common link that exists between the subjects of animal protection and the subjects of these other social justice movements; their legal status as property and the fact that they are all sentient beings.

The time has come for us to shift our perspective on animals and view them as beings capable of feeling pain, rather that just as a source of food, entertainment or research.

The primary role of a Commissioner for Animal Welfare would be:
• to provide independent oversight of the existing federal legal framework,
• to promote the interests of animals as sentient beings,
• to investigate ways in which animals and humans can better coexist,
• to promote and monitor the overall safety, welfare and well-being of animals and to monitor the trends in complaints made on behalf of animals,
• to conduct special inquiries into issues affecting animals,
• to make recommendations to government and non-government agencies on legislation, policies, practices and services affecting animals,
• to promote the provision of information and advice to educate all members of society,
• to conduct, promote and monitor research and training on issues affecting animals,
• to conduct, promote and monitor public awareness activities on issues affecting animals

As a society we have embraced climate change, sustainability and biodiversity, but we must not overlook the importance of looking after the welfare and survival of our fellow beings with which we share the planet. The role of a Commissioner for Animal Welfare is a significant step towards expressing our genuine concern.

We, the undersigned, call upon the Federal Government to appoint a Commissioner for Animal Affairs.

Animals are an integral part of our lives on many different levels. In much the same way as we have re-evaluated our approach to the environment in recent years, perceptions of how we treat, and should treat, those with whom we share this planet are also changing.

It is time to carefully reconsider how we treat our animals on the farm, in the home, in zoos, in research laboratories, in circuses and out in the wild.

It is time to question whether we are setting the right example for our children and future generations.

Mahatma Gandhi once said that the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. It is time, therefore, to question the greatness and moral progress of our nation and reassess the way we think about animals.

The appointment of a Commissioner at a federal level would enable a unified approach to be taken towards animal affairs. The task is not an easy one as there are many interests to be taken into account. The importance of the role of a Commissioner is seen as being independent from, and able to provide an oversight of, the existing federal animal welfare framework.

We must endeavour to build a more effective legal framework on principles that recognise, in very clear terms, our duty to protect animals from suffering and abuse. The appointment of a Commissioner for Animal Affairs would be a significant step towards the recognition of this duty.

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The A Federal Commissioner for Animal Affairs petition to Law students, legal profession, politicians, animal rights organisations was written by Stephen Graham and is in the category Law Reform at GoPetition.