top of page


Media reports where I have been quoted and published articles that I have authored. Take your time having a look around. If you'd like to hear my view on an issue affecting animals, I'd love to hear from you.

In law, can we still live the flexible dream?

Proctor, September 2018

02 Sep 2018

​In this article, I share my experience in searching for flexibility in the legal industry enabling me to practice as a lawyer whilst working in and growing my animal naturopathy and plant based coaching business.

Should animal rights trump human interests?


14 May 2016

From vegetarians and activists to farmers and medical researchers, most agree animal welfare is important. But are current regulations enough? Or should animals be given formal, legal rights? If so, what exactly would that look like?

These were some of the questions raised at an Intelligence Squared debate in Sydney earlier this month. It brought together six participants—including a shark attack survivor, an ethicist and a grazier—to argue for and against the statement: 'animal rights should trump human interests'.


Here are some highlights of the discussion:

Animal rights not human rights, and the importance of emotion


14 May 2016

Recently I had the privilege of speaking at an IQ2 Debate in Sydney, hosted by The Ethics Centre, on the proposition that animal rights should trump human interests.

As a staunch believer in animal rights, I spoke for the motion. With pre-debate votes showing support for the motion, I was disturbed when the post-debate votes showed a substantial swing against the motion. (Interestingly the online vote at the time of writing is 90% for the motion and 10% against).

Perhaps one of the reasons for the swing was confusion about the rights model animal rights advocates are seeking for animals.

Animal rights: an IQ debate


11 May 2016

Lawyers, ethicists, medical researchers, animals rights advocates and the cattle industry all agree that the welfare of animals is important and should be safeguarded but when it comes to granting animals moral, legal and formal rights there’s strong and passionate disagreement.

Highlights of Animal rights should trump human interests: an intelligence squared debate presented by The Ethics Centre.

IQ2 Debate: Animal rights should trump human interests


02 May 2016

Ruth Hatten argues that animal rights should trump human interests, as a prelude to The Ethics Centre’s IQ2 debate tonight.

In 2000, an Indian High Court asked, if humans are entitled to fundamental rights, why not animals? The court considered the plight of circus animals and found that those animals were “beings entitled to a dignified existence and humane treatment sans cruelty and torture.”

Under law, animals and humans are regarded differently. Animals are considered property. Much like chairs, tables, cars, books, houses or computers, they are inanimate objects, seen as having no sense of feeling.


Animals feel. Of course they do. They are sentient beings capable of being aware of sensations and emotions and capable of feeling pain and suffering.

Yet Australian law does not recognise animals’ ability to feel; at least not in a way that satisfactorily recognises it and thus protects them from harm.

Should animal rights trump human interests?


02 May 2016

Imagine a world where people who eat meat are seen as extremists, and animals have the same rights and freedoms as humans. It would be a complete shift in the way people live their lives, but an achievable and necessary one according to animal advocates. They want the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to be extended to animals, giving all sentient beings the right to safety, life, freedom and food. The Wire Radio spoke with speakers attending the IQ2 debate hosted by The Ethics Centre to find out whether we should stop prioritising our interests over animals.

Chimpanzees' legal champion spreads his message in Australia


05 May 2015

Two chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo, who are being used for biomedical research at Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York, hit the headlines in April this year when Manhattan Supreme Court justice Barbara Jaffe granted them a writ of habeas corpus.


The driving force behind this legal turning point is lawyer, animal rights campaigner, author, and university professor Steven Wise, who is currently on a speaking tour of Australia.

The tour has been organised by Voiceless, an independent and not-for-profit think-tank that works to alleviate the suffering caused by factory farming and the commercial hunting of kangaroos.

The lowdown on leather, part 1


14 May 2014

Leather. It’s something we all associate with high-end luxury, comfortable seats and the shoes on our feet, but do we pay enough attention to the environmental, human and animal impacts of leather production? In the first of a two part series, Ruth Hatten looks at the environmental consequences of leather production and manufacture, and what we can do to reduce them. In the next issue she will review leather’s impact on human welfare and animal suffering.


For most people, leather is a cornerstone of our wardrobes and furnishings. Leather is big business around the world, and an important part of the Australian economy.  Globally, the leather industry is worth over $60 billion per annum, a number that is forecast to reach $90 billion by 2016. For the 2012-2013 year, revenue from the Australian leather industry was expected to reach approximately $727 million.

The lowdown on leather, part 2


05 Jun 2014

Part one of this two part series discussed the environmental concerns around the production of leather. The impact of leather does not end here though: both humans and animals alike suffer as a result of consumer demand for leather goods. Ruth Hatten discusses these impacts and suggests ways we can navigate the issues when next shopping for leather.


Human suffering

Very few leather-finishing facilities exist in Australia due to the competitive pull of overseas markets. This means that the majority of the leather we purchase is often produced in developing countries with poor worker health and safety requirements.

The majority of leather production is a chemical-heavy process that has alarming consequences for unprotected workers.

Kangaroo meat industry eyes Chinese export market


26 Feb 2013

The kangaroo meat industry is hoping to expand its exports dramatically with an entry into the Chinese market. 

To overcome animal welfare concerns the biggest player in the industry says it's promised to stop killing joeys and their mothers. Animal welfare activists say that's a desperate move and the industry is overstating the export potential.

Simon Lauder reports.

Bill for goat shooting could fall on taxpayers


23 Jan 2013

TAXPAYERS may be forced to pick up the bill for an alleged illegal hunting expedition that has led to a police investigation and the suspension of two members of the Game Council.

Minister backflips on sow stall ban


08 Nov 2012

In a devastating blow to the welfare of pregnant pigs, Tasmania's Minister for Primary Industries, Bryan Green, will renege on the government's earlier promise to ban sow stalls across the state.

Mr Green has now stated in government hearings his intention to allow sows to be confined in stalls for up to 10 days after mating, as reported by ABC TV's 7.30 Tasmania.

Pig dogging supporter speaks out


26 Oct 2012

A VETERAN Newcastle pig hunter has attacked critics who have called for the practice of ‘‘pig dogging’’ to be stopped, saying it is a more humane way to keep down the feral pig population than shooting or baiting.

Jason Stephen has been using dogs to catch feral pigs across the Hunter and New England regions for more than 20 years. He said he believed a forum calling for an end to the ‘‘blood sport’’ was ill-informed.

The forum, held on Thursday night in Sydney, came after the Game Council NSW, which regulates hunting in the state, opened seven more forests for ‘‘pig dogging’’ in February. ‘‘Dogging’’, as it is commonly known, is now permitted in 130 forests across the state.


Ruth Hatten, from Animal Protection Institute Voiceless, said dogging was a needlessly cruel way of killing a pig. In many cases the practice also breached NSW animal protection laws.

Planned free-range label misleading: animal groups


31 Jul 2012

Consumers could be duped into paying extra to buy "factory farmed" poultry products if a proposed new definition of free-range is approved for the booming chicken meat industry, animal welfare groups warn. 

The country's biggest chicken meat producers, including Inghams and Baida who supply supermarkets and fast-food outlets such as KFC, have applied to the consumer watchdog to have a new free-range label certified for chicken meat.

The distinctive label would be used on the packaging of free-range chicken and turkey products from the major farms.


But animal welfare groups Voiceless and the Humane Society warn that the big chicken producers are trying to "hijack" the free-range label and allow it to be used for products from farms that keep as many as 140,000 birds a hectare.

Law of the land


15 Sep 2011

The Indonesian live export row has focussed national attention on the rights of farm animals in an unprecedented way. And although the trade has resumed and Federal Government has declined at this stage to legislate it out of existence, there's little doubt fundamental questions remain over the future of the billion-dollar business.

Hardly surprising then that animal welfare has become such a significant new force in Australian legal circles. From law students through to a former High Court judge, there is a growing awareness of animal law: the rights, or lack thereof, for farm animals and the implications for Australian agribusiness, as Sean Murphy reports.

Egg Corp moves to crack free-range standard


28 Jun 2012

Moves by the Australian Egg Corporation (Egg Corp) to overcrowd free-range hens would fail animal protection, small business and consumers alike.

Legitimate free-range egg farmers keep no more than 1500 hens per hectare, yet Egg Corp plans to allow 20,000 hens to be crowded into the same amount of space while hijacking the "free-range" label to wrongly describe these overcrowded conditions.

Animal protection institute Voiceless has called on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to refuse this deeply flawed standard in its submission to the ACCC’s public consultation on Egg Corp’s certification trademark application, open until June 30.

The truth about eggs, hens and pens


01 Nov 2011

A new bill tells us exactly what should come first: consumer awareness about eggs. Ruth Hatten, legal counsel at Voiceless, writes. 

In a recent significant move, the NSW Greens Truth in Labelling (Free-range Eggs) Bill 2011 (Bill) passed NSW’s Upper House with support from the Greens, Labor and the Shooters and Fishers party.  The Bill sets a legal definition for free range eggs; something that has only been accomplished in Tasmania and the ACT.

A legal definition for free range eggs is long overdue.  Consumers looking to purchase eggs are bombarded with advertising claims that eggs are ‘free range’, ‘barn laid’, ‘cage’, ‘farm fresh’, ‘environmentally friendly’, ‘organic’, ‘certified organic’ or ‘grain fed’; claims that are often accompanied with images of happy hens roaming lush green fields.  Mostly these claims are marketing ploys to persuade consumers that eggs are produced in animal friendly conditions, when in the majority of cases, they are not.

Practice Profile: Animal law - 'the next social justice movement'


18 Aug 2011

Eight years ago the field of animal law did not exist, but in 2011 more and more lawyers are joining the fight against animal cruelty, writes Briana Everett.

The recent controversy surrounding Australia's live export trade and the cases of animal cruelty exposed by ABC Television's Four Corners earlier this year has led to a renewed interest in animal protection, attracting some much-needed attention to the laws surrounding animal welfare in Australia and overseas.


But while the live export debate has dominated news and conversations across Australia following the Government's June decision to temporarily ban the live export of cattle, the issue represents just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to animal cruelty issues currently being tackled by those within the animal protection area. 


According to Brian Sherman, the co-founder and managing director of animal protection institute Voiceless, although the live export of animals is no doubt cruel, factory farming is responsible for the "largest and most hidden animal abuses" in Australia.

Govt lifts ban to appease cattle industry


06 Jul 2011

The decision to lift the suspension of live cattle exports to Indonesia was hasty and made to appease the cattle industry, said Voiceless. 

Condemning the Government's decision announced on 6 July by Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Senator Joe Ludwig to reopen trade with Indonesia, Voiceless questioned the viability of the supply chains which, according to Senator Ludwig, must meet the international standards contained in the World Animal Health guidelines (OIE).

"These new orders allow the export of live cattle only where animals can be managed through supply chains that meet international standards," explained Ludwig. "These strict new conditions have been written into all export permits."

According to Ludwig, the new conditions require exporters to trace cattle from properties onto vessels, into feedlots and into abattoirs that meet "agreed international standards". 

"Up until Tuesday, Minister Ludwig has been arguing that a supply chain assurance is needed before the trade is resumed to ensure animal welfare. He is now saying that live cattle can be exported through supply chains that meet international standards. We strongly doubt the viability of those supply chains," said Voiceless legal counsel Ruth Hatten.

Food animals: the legality of our own backyard


05 Jul 2011

We know about the horror of live animal export, but would the public be as outraged if they knew animals were experiencing severe cruelty on our own shores, and that this cruelty is enshrined in our laws?

Last week I wrote about the banning of live export in light of footage shown on Four Corners.  The public response to the horrific images and the level of cruelty shown was unprecedented.  Would the public be similarly outraged if they knew animals were experiencing severe cruelty on our own shores and that this cruelty is enshrined in our laws?


In Australia, approximately half a billion animals are raised annually for food and food production.  The majority of these animals are intensively or factory farmed. They are considered commodities, their sentience ignored.


The life of a factory farmed animal is a grim one. If born into the system, their start to life will be a torturous one. A piglet will have his or her teeth clipped, his or her tail docked, and, if a boy, be castrated. A calf will be dehorned, branded or tagged. A chick will be debeaked or, if a boy, macerated. For the majority, there is no pain relief; our laws do not require it.

Can we ban live animal export?


27 Jun 2011

As Australia weighs up the issues around a complete ban of live export of animals, legal counsel Ruth Hatten looks at the legal angles.

The ABC’s Four Corners exposed the brutality of live export, as it happens in Indonesia. The expose revealed horrific conditions experienced by Australian cattle when they face slaughter overseas.


The overwhelming public response to the expose resulted in a temporary ban on the live export of cattle, calves, sheep, lambs and goats to Indonesia (except for breeding purposes) by virtue of the Export Control (Export of Live-stock to the Republic of Indonesia) Order 2011.


This move by Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig appeased those with concern for animal welfare but disgruntled those concerned with the economic impact of the ban on an industry reported to be worth approximately $300 million.


Australians are pondering the ramifications of the temporary ban.

No winners with interim ban


20 Jun 2011

The Gillard Government's temporary ban on the export of live cattle has strengthened calls for a permanent prohibition, writes Briana Everett, while also exposing cattle producers to potential claims for damages


The Federal Government's decision this month to impose a temporary ban on the live export of cattle has received harsh criticism from members of the livestock industry as well as animal rights groups. 


When the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, announced on 8 June that the Government had suspended the export of live cattle to Indonesia, animal rights groups labelled the move as a band-aid solution and called for the imposition of a permanent ban, given the inadequacy of existing regulations to ensure the humane treatment of animals.


"Indonesia does have animal welfare laws but they're not effective," explained Voiceless general counsel Ruth Hatten. "As far as I am aware, an animal welfare act has been drafted but there are no regulations. There is no capacity to enforce those laws and that's one of the hurdles."

Please reload

bottom of page