British Colonialism, Australian Nationalism and the Law: Hierarchies of Wild Animal Protection

Monash University Law Review, Vol 39, No 2, 2013

21 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2014

See all articles by Steven White

Steven White

Griffith University - Griffith Law School

Date Written: July 1, 2013

Abstract

A combination of animal welfare law and nature conservation law establishes a hierarchy of protection for wild animals in Australia, with rare, threatened or endangered native animals receiving the highest levels of protection, plentiful native animals lying in the middle — sometimes well protected, sometimes not — and introduced wild animals at the bottom. In reading beyond the accounts of contemporary law, especially in sociology and environmental history, a plausible argument can be made for the proposition that this prevailing general schema of protection reflects an early 20th century assertion of a distinctive Australian identity, combined with the emergence of a conservation ethic and the decline of attempts to acclimatise British wild animals in Australia. Prior to federation the legal protection of wild animals was quite different, with native animals receiving little protection until the late 19th century. Introduced wild animals were initially protected to allow their flourishing, but by the late 19th century were increasingly being characterised as ‘pests’ and their protection wound back. This article explores how and why attitudes to native wild animals and introduced wild animals in Australia have changed over time, and how these changes continue to be reflected in Australian law.

Keywords: Wild Animal Protection, Australia, Native vs Non-native Animals, Historical Development

JEL Classification: K32, K39

Suggested Citation

White, Steven, British Colonialism, Australian Nationalism and the Law: Hierarchies of Wild Animal Protection (July 1, 2013). Monash University Law Review, Vol 39, No 2, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2400773

Steven White (Contact Author)

Griffith University - Griffith Law School ( email )

Nathan Campus, GU
Brisbane, 4111
Australia

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