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An uncomfortable truth: the deaths of kangaroos and harp seals

Bond University is hosting prominent Canadian animal rights lawyer Lesli Bisgould as part of her twelve-stop tour of Australia.

The event will be presented by animal protection institute Voiceless, to discuss a little-known and uncomfortable truth: while Canada’s annual seal hunt has been widely condemned internationally, similar cruelty is going unnoticed for Australia’s native icon, the kangaroo.

Australia’s kangaroos are hunted annually in the world’s largest commercial slaughter of land-based wildlife, with almost 90 million lawfully killed in the last 20 years. Comparatively, Canada’s harp seals are hunted in the world’s largest commercial slaughter of marine mammals, with almost four million lawfully killed in the past two decades.

This year Voiceless will explore legal comparisons between the two hunts and the lessons Australia can learn from its Canadian counterpart in the 2012 Voiceless Animal Law Lecture Series, commencing in Sydney on 30 May.

Seals and kangaroos alike are slaughtered away from the public eye through violent means. Many suffer for long periods of time before death.

Keynote speaker Lesli Bisgould will share her legal insights and experiences with the seal hunt while local speakers will provide a legal perspective on the commercial hunting of kangaroos.

With the two countries holding such similar records, the presentations will also explore the legal parameters of the hunts and the positive role every person can play to improve the current situation.

In a ground-breaking career, Lesli was the first lawyer in Canada to specialise in animal rights, authored the first Canadian text on the subject and has lectured widely throughout Canada and the US.

With a clear insight to the commonalities and criticisms of both hunts, Bisgould has challenged the Canadian government directly, questioning government justifications of the hunt and the role individuals play in bringing change.

 “Every person has a part to play in animal protection. If we look at images of the seal and kangaroo hunts and we are uncomfortable with them, we are each responsible for holding our governments to account,” said Lesli.

 “Canada and Australia share startling similarities, with legislation that overlooks the reality of what’s happening on the ground and fails to protect our native animals from terrible suffering.” 

Joining Lesli on the Law Lecture Series are a collection of Australia’s prominent legal minds including Dr Melissa Perry QC, Graeme McEwen, Chair of the Barristers Animal Welfare Panel and Keely Boom, lawyer and research fellow with think tank for kangaroos, THINKK.

This free events is open to lawyers, university students and the general public and will take place on June 5 in  Lecture Theatre 5.

To register for the Bond University Law Lecture Series, click here.

About Voiceless, the animal protection institute
Voiceless is an independent and non-profit think tank focused on animal protection, founded by father and daughter team, Brian and Ondine Sherman. Voiceless drives change on institutionalised animal cruelty in Australia by growing animal law, influencing legislative reform, and building a powerful movement of animal protection advocates.

Its efforts are assisted by patrons  including Professor J. M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize for Literature Winner 2003, The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, former judge of the High Court of Australia, Dr Jane Goodall, world-renowned primatologist and animal advocate, and Brian Sherman AM, businessman and philanthropist; a Council of 39 members including immediate past Treasury Secretary Dr Ken Henry AC, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Bob Carr, neurosurgeon, Dr Charlie Teo AM, former President of the Australian Law Reform Commission, Prof David Weisbrot AM, and Executive Director of the St James Ethics Centre, Dr Simon Longstaff; a Scientific Expert Advisory Committee comprising leaders in animal science from the US, UK and Australia; and celebrity Ambassadors Hugo Weaving, Abbie Cornish and Emily Barclay.

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