In two weeks time, the people of NSW will wander into a little cardboard booth and vote for who they want to represent them for the next few years.
What makes this campaign interesting is the desperation that is coming from the Animal Justice Party for the vegan vote.
There are some who claim that you can’t be vegan and vote for any other party than theirs.
So how vegan is the Animal Justice Party really?
They Are An Animal Protection Party, Not An Animal Rights
Animal protection and animal rights are not interchangeable terms.
Nor do they mean or imply the same thing.
Animal protection is about protecting some animals from some harm. As it is still acceptable to use other animals as a resource, there will be activities where animals are harmed, or even killed.
Animal rights is about giving other animals certain rights. Such as the right not to be treated as property, and the right to bodily integrity.
Their lead Upper House candidate Emma Hurst even seems confused about what animal rights is.
Here she is claiming that allowing companion animals onto public transport is an “animal rights issue”.
Not have ANY animal as a companion animal IS an animal rights issue.
Speaking Of The Upper House Candidates
You’d be forgiven for thinking that there were only two candidates, Emma Hurst and Angela Pollard for the NSW Upper House.
There is, according to NSW Electoral Commission, 20 candidates in the running for the Upper House.
What interesting about these two is that Emma has come from Animal Liberation NSW (which Mark Pearson was the executive director of before politics), and Angela was a staffer for Mark.
Both are on the NSW committee with Angela being the Convenor.
Ben Costello, another Upper House candidate is also the treasurer.
If you go through the list of committee members here, you will find that most, if not all of them are standing at this election.
Supposedly this isn’t against the rules, though does represent a huge conflict of interest and concerns about the transparency within the party.
What Policies Do They Have?
What actual policies they have is hard to tell.
All I have been able to find out are the ones from the two Upper House Candidates mentioned above.
They want to get layer hens out of their small cages and into a shed/barn. (This isn’t an animal rights or an animal protection position. It is an industry supporting position as it allows the egg industry to sell their product at a higher price as it is now a premium product.
They also want to end kangaroo shooting. While this is a great thing, and should be supported, it is elevating kangaroos to a status that is above other animals that are killed in the same way. This makes it a speciesist policy, and definitely one that isn’t inline with animal rights.
Finally, they talk about environmental protection and addressing climate change. Neither of them are anywhere remotely linked to animal rights.
Yes, I know they have a list of policies on their website, though they are a mix of federal and state ones, so I have no idea what they think they can do in NSW.
It is worth noting that one candidate has the view that education should be a wholly user pays system, because those who undertake do so for self improvement, and to earn more money.
We are told that this was that particular candidates personal opinion, and that if elected they would vote as per party policy. The thing is, the AJP doesn’t actually have a policy on education.
What this means is that this candidate would be free to vote as per their personal beliefs.
Others have been talking about an animal protection office or something along those lines. This “office” would essentially be the same as the RSPCA, though not reliant upon donation to fund their activities.
While this is a growing party, there are concerns about the number of candidates they are fielding at this election.
In all honesty, the political nous of them seems to be very low. Which would lead the possibility that they are more interested in numbers to get funding than presenting a genuine candidate for election.
Though one thing is common amongst them all. They are all talked up as having been involved in animal rights for x amount of years.
There is even a “celebrity” candidate who left the country shortly after their nomination was announced, and won’t come back until a week before the election. (Gotta be money well spent by the party there).
Interestingly, the faithful are claiming at all the candidates are vegan, as if that in some way improves what the party stands for.
But What About *The Animals*
Using the animals as a justification for voting for the Animal Justice Party, has to be one of the worst, and most mistaken reasons I have ever heard.
If Mark Pearson’s past performance is anything to go by, I wouldn’t be holding my breath for even a minute change to the way that other animals are viewed.
I am sure we can remember the sushi-gate incident of 2017, and his sorry/not sorry statement.
In that statement he originally said he was committed to the vegan lifestyle, then changed it to say “I remain committed to moving swiftly towards an essentially plant based diet. I am now fully committed to not eating any animal product where sourcing could have involved harm.” (emphasis added)
Essentially plant based isn’t the same as being vegan.
Nor is his other commitment.
In March 2016, he proposed a parliamentary motion effectively giving wool farmers a pat on the back, saying nothing about not using wool.
(1) That this House commends the 80 per cent of Australian wool growers who are:
(a) breeding sheep to be resistant to flystrike by breeding out skin wrinkles; or
(b) using pain relief when mulesing sheep.
(2) That this House calls on the remaining 20 per cent of wool growers to begin breeding sheep to be resistant to flystrike, and in the interim, providing pain relief to sheep when mulesing.
(3) That this House congratulates Dr Meredith Schiel and the Australian Wool Growers Association for developing and promoting Tri-Solfen, an economical local anaesthetic and antiseptic gel spray for use on lambs to provide pain relief following mulesing, which also reduces blood loss and infection to improve wound healing.
(4) That this House commends Laurence Modiano, a leading European wool-buyer and distributor for facilitating the uptake in the textile industry’s demand for non-mulesed wool and for encouraging the Australian wool industry to move towards pain relief.
(5) That this House congratulates world renown fashion designer Count Zegna for, in the past two years, awarding his prestigious Wool Trophy for the best superfine Merino fleece to wool growers who have bred out the wrinkles in their sheep and adopted other management practices and therefore ceased mulesing their sheep.
In 2018, it is alleged that he sacked one of his staffers for questioning or saying no to him. While it is Mark’s right to do that as an MP, it also denies the former employee the right to natural justice, and makes a mockery of their “rationality”, “fairness” and “equality” values (The AJP have ignored requests for comment on this, which is never a good sigh).
Mark Pearson has also been silent on the slaughter of deer and pig populations in NSW, while feigning concern about the Singleton brumby slaughter. (This is a Commonwealth issue, and one that NSW has no input or influence in).
He has also neglected to announce that there was a parliamentary inquiry into the sustainability of the dairy industry to enable animal groups to lodge a submission. (The “he was a temporary member” excuse doesn’t hold water if you check hansard.
The 2018 “Select Committee on Landowner Protection from Unauthorised Filming or Surveillance“, was another wasted event.
The same goes for 2015’s “Joint Select Committee on Companion Animal Breeding Practices in New South Wales”. Before the committee was announced, Mark was full of strong talk though when the report was handed down, it was what people expected.
As none of the candidates have what anyone would say is a genuine animal rights position, and with the party being animal protection, even if all the candidates got elected, I doubt they would be able to achieve anything that was a genuine positive for ALL the animals.
Should You Vote For Them?
While who you vote for is a personal choice, and one that you should make up yourself, don’t let me or anyone pressure you into voting a particular way.
Do your own research.
Contact the candidates and ask them questions that are important to you.
If you are satisfied with the answers, vote for them, regardless of what party they are or aren’t in.
If anyone tells you that you aren’t vegan because you are going to vote for a particular party based on the activities of its leader. By that reasoning, you aren’t vegan if you vote for the Animal Justice Party due to the actual policies of the party, and the actions of its sitting MP.
Disclosure: I have founded a political party called the “Australian Vegan Party”. The party doesn’t have any candidates in the NSW general election
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