Topic: Putting the horse before Descartes: the role of competition & consumer policy in advancing food animal welfare

Presenter: Associate Professor Ven. Alex Bruce - Australian National University, College of Law

When the ABC "Four Corners" program aired images of Australian export cattle being systematically abused by Indonesian abattoir workers, it focussed the nation's attention on the treatment of food animals. Millions of chickens, cattle and pigs are slaughtered in Australia each day to satisfy the taste preferences of Australian consumers. While most people do not accept that these food animals possess rights, they nevertheless expect them to be treated "humanely", an expectation expressed in consumers' willingness to pay a price premium for welfare-friendly food animal products, such as "free-range" eggs. However, while the Commonwealth government professes to care for animal welfare, it simultaneously permits cruel animal husbandry practices in exploiting animals as part of developing efficient and profitable primary industries. In multi-cultural Australia, this includes practices associated with the religious slaughter of animals.

In these circumstances, it seems counter-intuitive that Competition and Consumer Policy might provide a means of improving food animal welfare and addressing welfare issues associated with the religious slaughter of animals. Nevertheless, in this presentation, I explore how the Commonwealth government is intending competition and consumer policy to play its role in promoting food animal welfare.

All welcome, please register by emailing Beth Williams.

Contact: Beth Williams, ph: 334 69350, email:

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