Will Victoria Miss the Sentience Doorway and Have a 2021 Animal Law Reform that Is Outdated even before It Is Enacted?

31 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2021

See all articles by Ian Robertson

Ian Robertson

International Animal Law; Sentient Animal Law Foundation

Daniel Goldsworthy

Deakin Law School; Melbourne Law School

Date Written: June 7, 2021


Updated animal law is ‘right’ for many economic, environmental, and societal reasons. While nonregulatory initiatives and programs are valuable as ancillary means of securing those benefits, law enforcement has a vital role in ensuring compliance by all stakeholders, and maintenance of standards that protect existing and future interests. Law’s vital role highlights the necessity of keeping it up to date.

The contemporary science of the Five Domains validates that animals are capable of feeling and experiencing positive and negative states. The Five Domains is also the scientific authority for evolving animal legislation beyond what the Five Freedoms did over half a century ago. Legislatively defining animal sentience in a manner that creates positive animal welfare law is a keystone reform that has already been implemented in Australia. Victoria’s industry, public, and animals are at a critical legislative crossroads, and Victoria’s 2020 legal reform will either deliver meaningful change leadership or result in decades more of ‘business as usual’.

To avoid implementing legislation that is outdated before it is even enacted, this paper demonstrates how a legislative definition of sentience which states: ‘sentience means that animals experience negative and positive [physical, mental and emotional] states’, is consistent with the contemporary science of the Five Domains and delivers benefits to all animal welfare stakeholders. For the body of the animal welfare legislation to be consistent with this up-to-date and scientifically authoritative definition of ‘sentience’, this paper further identifies amendments to be incorporated in the body of animal welfare legislation which provide further clarity and certainty to elevate standards of animal welfare and duplicate existing leadership practices that ‘go beyond simply not being cruel to them’.

Keywords: sentience, animal law, positive animal welfare, positive animal welfare law, five freedoms, five domains, duty of care

JEL Classification: I K Q Z

Suggested Citation

Robertson, Ian and Goldsworthy, Daniel, Will Victoria Miss the Sentience Doorway and Have a 2021 Animal Law Reform that Is Outdated even before It Is Enacted? (June 7, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3861352 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3861352

Ian Robertson (Contact Author)

International Animal Law ( email )

P O Box 106231
Auckland, 1010
New Zealand

Sentient Animal Law Foundation ( email )

PO Box 234
Auckland, New Zealand, 1010
1010 (Fax)

Daniel Goldsworthy

Deakin Law School ( email )

75 Pigdons Road
Victoria, Victoria 3216

Melbourne Law School ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053

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