Animals have traditionally been overlooked in politics, resulting in laws that fail to protect them from exploitation, abuse and neglect. This Federal Election year, the Voiceless Animal Law Lecture Series will look at the rapidly growing global movement to represent animals in politics, and use political processes to achieve positive change for animals.



Dr Bidda Jones has devoted her working life to improving the welfare of animals. She heads RSPCA Australia’s science and policy team, providing evidence-based animal welfare advice to government, industry and the public, and oversees the organisation’s campaign strategy. Originally from the UK, Bidda has an honours degree in zoology and a PhD in animal behaviour. In 2011, Bidda played a key role in the campaign against the live export of cattle to Indonesia and continues to strongly advocate for the replacement of the trade with meat-only exports. She is the co-author of Backlash: Australia’s conflict of values over live exports published in March 2016. Bidda was a recipient of the 2011 Voiceless Eureka Prize for research contributing to animal protection, a finalist in the 2012 Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence Awards and is an Honorary Associate of the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney.

Bidda will be presenting at the ACT lecture.

In 2011, the horrific treatment of Australian cattle in Indonesia shown on ABC’s Four Corners thrust the live export industry into the public eye. The Gillard government’s subsequent suspension of the trade has been the subject of fierce criticism ever since.

The shift in Australia’s political direction has led to the removal of formal mechanisms for independent animal welfare advice to government at a time when the live export industry is once again ascendant. The ensuing roll-out of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance Scheme (ESCAS) has provided cover for aggressively developing the trade. However ESCAS is regarded by many as a flawed system that fails to protect animals from cruelty.

An intrinsic problem is that the federal Department of Agriculture, responsible for developing and implementing ESCAS, has conflicting objectives. How should a future government address this conflict and ensure that Australia takes an ethical and informed approach to improving animal welfare in the live export trade?