Why do our laws permit routine cruelty to animals where society deems it expedient despite their acknowledged sentience?

Our society professes to be concerned about animal welfare but sanctions very different treatment of animals according to their perceived utility and the vested interests that benefit from their use. The law as it stands reflects this contradiction. As a result millions of animals suffer routinely, whether it be for live export, domestic agricultural use, feral animal control, research or entertainment purposes. Not even companion animals are immune from suffering; treated as disposable property and with little or no restriction on their breeding and sale, hundreds of thousands are euthanased every year in Australia. All of this is both inhumane and dishonest. Either we believe in the humane treatment of animals or we don’t. If the latter, let’s be honest about it; if the former, we need significant legal change. A good start would be the creation of independent statutory bodies to administer and enforce animal welfare laws instead of the current primary industries departments with their conflicts of interest.

Asked by:
Elizabeth Ellis

What's more important: answers, or questions? Are the ‘big’ questions - life, the universe, everything - more important than ‘little’ ones? Does a good question provoke debate or laughter, lead to certain answers or create reflective pause? Can it change laws, minds or lives? Are questions the best answers?

The Interrobang – a new festival from the Wheeler Centre – is looking for the best questions in the world.

Ask your questions and vote on others, then join us on 27 – 28 November for a feast of frequently unanswered questions – as we present your most controversial, revealing, funny and insightful ideas to a 25-strong Brains Trust of the world’s most inquisitive thinkers.

So pose your burning questions. We’ll build this festival on your curiosity, so brace yourself – and wonder hard.