Melbourne City Council to Expire Carriage Horse Permits in the CBD

We are delighted to report that Melbourne City Council will cease offering permits to horse-drawn carriage operators from June 30 this year. The AJP ran candidates at the recent Council elections in order to get this practise banned, and much work has been done by us in lobbying Councillors to support this move for some time. We are delighted to have played a significant part in making this the most complained-about issue to the Melbourne City Council, ultimately leading to this welcome decision.

Carriage winA huge thanks must go to Kristin of Melbourne Against Horse-Drawn Carriages and her colleagues and assistants. Kristin spearheaded this campaign for the AJP over many years and has been instrumental in delivering this outcome through her tireless activism. A big thank you also to Melbourne City Councillors Rohan Leppert and Cathy Oke for their unwavering support, and to Mayor Robert Doyle for finally acting in line with his constituents’ wishes. And lastly, a thank you to ALL OF YOU who attended rallies, wrote letters and generally made this an issue that the MCC could no longer ignore.

Today, this is a win for the AJP and the animal lovers of Melbourne. But we will continue to make noise, lobby, protest and negotiate with all the political capital we have for the MANY other issues that matter. Because the Animal Justice Party isn’t just of value at election time. We are ALWAYS working to give animals a voice in Australian politics.

An Annual Festival of Cruelty & Ecological Vandalism

The Animal Justice Party condemns and deplores the ACT government decision to kill yet another 2600 kangaroos on Canberra reserves and the Googong Reserve (in NSW which is managed by the ACT) in 2017.

The decision follows release for public comment of a draft Kangaroo Management Plan (KMP). The content of this Plan confirmed that the government has very little scientific support for its claims that ACT kangaroos are at high densities, or that they are capable of harming the very environment which has relied on kangaroo grazing to maintain it for millions of years.

The KMP’s recommendation to slaughter of up to 40% of the entire population annually flies in the face of established understanding that kangaroo populations in natural conditions cannot grow faster than 10% per year. It also defies growing evidence that kangaroos number are barely 10% of numbers at the time of European settlement.

Joey in PouchThe government denies the cruelty of its annual slaughter with assertions about a ‘humane’ killing season. Yet the ACT’s killing season takes place when almost every mature female kangaroos has both a pouch joey and a young at foot. Both babies die when their mother is killed, either bashed to death or abandoned to starve.

The government defends this cruelty by claiming its shooters comply with a code of practice, but, even if this compliance was assured, the government knows full well that the purpose of a code practice under the ACT Animal Welfare Act is not to prevent cruelty but to permit it. Even the Productivity Commission notes this in its Inquiry Report on Regulation in Australian Agriculture: “Most states’ primary legislation allows for the adoption of codes of practice by regulation, with compliance with the code being a defence to prosecution for cruelty or breach of duty of care under the primary legislation” (p208).

Of the public submissions received by the government, the number rejecting the KMP outnumbered those supporting it by three to one. The government has declined to publish the submissions, probably because they explained far too convincingly exactly why and how the government has got it wrong.

AJP National President, Bruce Poon is appalled at the ACT government’s arrogance. “It is astonishing the government thinks it can just keep getting away with this annual festival of animal cruelty and ecological vandalism, year after year, until the last kangaroo is dead.

“Do they really think voters will continues to accept the government’s patronising assurances: ‘Don’t trouble your little heads about it, dears, we’re the government, we know best’ – in the face of such a blatant extermination campaign?”

AJP Submission to the ACT Government’s Draft Kangaroo Management Plan (KMP)

The Animal Justice Party has made a submission to the ACT Government’s Draft Kangaroo Management Plan (KMP).
The main thrust of our submission is the complete rejection of the KMP’s main assertions:

• to demoting (under law) kangaroos from ‘protected native animal’ to ‘controlled native animal’.
• that kangaroos have a deleterious impact on the environment;
• that the kangaroo ‘cull’ is humane; and
• the ACT Government’s prohibition of rehabilitating kangaroos.

 

The submission systematically demolishes the underlying logic of the KMP, in particular how unscientific the so-called science in it is!

Click here to access the AJP’s submission in full.

AJP MP’s Thoughtless Act In a Decades Long Career In the Service of Animals

Charges of hypocrisy being levelled at AJP Member of the NSW Parliament, Mark Pearson, need to be put into the context of his decades of service to animals. The attacks on a long-term animal rights campaigner appear to be for the sole purpose of trying to ensure the AJP does not succeed in its quest for a better world for animals.

Mark has deviated from the Animal Justice Party policy of a plant-based diet by eating fish, and we are disappointed with our MP’s behaviour. As the public face of the party we hold him to a higher standard and expect him to adhere to this policy. Mark Pearson isn’t perfect and we’d like him to do better, and believe that he will. We understand the disappointment felt by our supporters and apologise to them unreservedly. This is a timely lesson that those in government are ordinary human beings with flaws and inconsistencies.

We have already seen the benefits to animals of having Mark Pearson in parliament.  He is bringing the issue of animal cruelty into parliament every day.  Mark has tabled Bills that would mandate CCTV cameras in abattoirs, ensure monitoring and sprinkler systems are installed in intensive farms,  see the implementation of a ban on animals in circuses and prohibit primates being used in research.  Parliament has been required to debate the mulesing of sheep and listen to speeches about a full range of animal interests.  Ministers have responded to questions as diverse as sow stalls in piggeries to the cruelty of keeping dolphins in captivity.  The (sadly too-brief) Greyhound Racing Industry ban was partially credited to Mark’s discussion with Mike Baird.  We are still hopeful that Mark’s lobbying of the Environment Minister will result in a trial for contraceptive darting of brumbies rather than slaughter and trapping.

We have confidence that Mark will continue to serve animals by pushing for legislative change. We also have confidence that he has the strategic thinking required to achieve such change within the complex framework of our Parliamentary system. The AJP is the only party that takes a stand for all animals, human and non-human alike. 

AJP results in the Western Australian election

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Thanks to all members of the Animal Justice Party in Western Australia for their efforts to win representation for animals. A tremendous amount of work has been put in over the last 6 months, and it showed on Saturday.

Six months ago, we had just over 200 members in WA, needing 500 to register for the state election. Since then, we have increased our members to well over 700, registered as a party in WA, endorsed 14 quality candidates to stand in the upper and lower houses and attracted our biggest ever vote in Western Australia.

It appears clear at this stage that we will not win an Upper House seat at this election. Indeed, we did not expect to, and felt that this election was mainly about ‘building’ towards a more successful election next time.

Nevertheless, we achieved some noteworthy results:

Labor appears to have won all the seats we contested, and have swept to power in WA. This is a good result for the animals, as the ALP in Western Australia have made a range of commitments on animal issues, which we will be following up on in coming months.

– If the ALP can hang on in the seat of Jandakot (currently on 50.1% two party preferred with 69% counted), they will win the seat on our preferences, as we received 2.1% of the vote.

The Greens appear to be headed towards an increased representation in the Upper House to 3 seats. We will be very disappointed if Lynn MacLaren loses her seat in South Metro. Indeed, we largely sacrificed our own chances of winning by preferencing her first at No. 3; hopefully the further counting will see her hang on.

– In the seat of Forrestfield, our candidate Ashley Jago received our highest vote of 3.1% (69% counted).

– In the Upper House, we received our highest vote in the Eastern Metropolitan region, where our candidate Dr Talia Raphaely received 1.37% (54% counted).

– At the last federal election, we received a total of 12,687 votes in the Senate contest in WA. At this state election, contesting only 4 of the 6 upper house regions (so from a smaller voter base) we will receive a projected 15,000+ votes once counting is complete. This continues a trend of the AJP vote increasing in each election.

We look forward to working hard with the new government and other elected parties to see what changes we can make to how animals are treated in Western Australia.

SO many thanks go out to SO many people today, who have worked SO hard over the past days, weeks, months and years.

Firstly, thank you to Alicia Sutton, AJP WA Party Secretary, 1st candidate for the South West in the state election and 2nd candidate for two federal elections, a Senate re-election and a by-election. Alicia has been invaluable in growing this party from strength to strength.

Thank you to all our other candidates for this election – people who stepped out of their comfort zone and said “yes”… I am not sure HOW to do this and I’m in new territory, but I WILL do it for the animals: Brigit Anderson (also committee member), Colleen Saporita, Ashley Jago, Francesca Gobbert (also committee member x 2 and outreach and volunteer coordinator), Kandi Revian (also committee member and our marketing guru extraordinaire), Matt Hanson, Natasha Chakich, Talia Raphaely, Lizzy Mac, Ramona Janssen, Nicole Arielli (also committee member) and Eric Gobbert.

Thank you to our other committee members – Andrea Pollard, Joanna Graham, Asten Nunn, Roberta Vlaar and Fiona Geoghegan, for the meetings and brainstorming and energy.

Thank you to our eastern states colleagues and Party President for their support and encouragement.

And THANK YOU to all the volunteers who stood for hours yesterday handing out AJP how to vote cards for us and who have manned stalls for us, letterboxed for us, campaigned for us, picked up and delivered things for us, given their time to us, and to the individuals and businesses that have given their money too – in cash, in kind and in merchandise purchases.

Having said all that, remember always one thing… it’s never about us – it’s about the animals; they are the ONLY reason we exist.

We will update you about the election results when we have final numbers. Give us a couple of days to wind down and recuperate.

Katrina Love, AJP WA Convenor.

Ebola for bunnies

The Government intends to release a deadly rabbit haemorrhagic virus next month.  AJP has argued in a submission to the Invasive Plants and Animal Committee that the release is unsound both on conservation and ethical grounds. Rabbits are also much loved companion animals and the only available vaccine has only had a small pilot study.

What can you do? Talk to your vet about the vaccine if you keep rabbits and request an urgent meeting with your local MP to lodge an objection.

There is also an article on New Matilda based on the submission. You can add comments.

 

 

OPINION: WHO BENEFITS FROM SILENCING ANIMAL ACTIVISTS?

Recent media publications by The Land and The Guardian of meeting documents provides disturbing details of a forum held in August last year between agribusiness owners, NSW Farmers Federation, Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce and NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair along with Police and the RSPCA. They reveal the extent to which industry and government are working together to silence activists seeking to expose animal cruelty in farming.

barnaby-joyce-australian-porkThe documents obtained under freedom of information laws confirm what many activists have argued for a long time; the interconnected links between animal agriculture, government and sadly, the RSPCA. The forum participants committed to an action plan to harmonise state laws regarding the supposed threat of “farm trespass” by animal activists. The plan reflects the fears of an industry that understands the implications of its routine practices being exposed to the public. Transparency and truth are to be avoided at all costs. We also see Federal and State governments intent on ensuring cruel practices remain hidden from view. Rather than listening to community concerns and accepting that animal welfare standards need to be radically reformed, government is determined to keep animal welfare legislation in the 1970s.

One of the more alarming revelations is the active participation of the RSPCA in such discussions. The RSPCA’s willingness to side with industry and government is an affront to their charter, and would no doubt come as a surprise their many supporters. The fact that the RSPCA participated in such discussions which made no mention of enforcement or prosecution of animal cruelty laws is concerning. One is entitled to ask, what is the role of the RSPCA in farm trespass policy discussions? Why are they not holding industry to account for their cruel practices? As has been said many times; if we kept a dog in the same conditions that industry keeps pigs in intensive farms, animal cruelty charges would be laid.

The document identified that;

38 piggeries in the Young area of NSW, along with poultry farms in other states, were known to have been “invaded for the purpose of installing unauthorised surveillance devices, ostensibly to ‘reveal’ animal husbandry practice believed to be poor”.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, this statement reflects the absolute lack of concern for animal well-being. The treatment of these animals is appalling, not poor. Animal cruelty is standard industry practice, not an aberration. Activists seek to bring transparency and truth to the public arena, enabling consumers to make balanced decisions about their purchases and food choices.

If industry is confident that their practices are acceptable then there should be no issue with footage showing industry practice. If the government is confident that their animal welfare laws are so robust, then let’s show those lawful practices to the public. Tail docking, castration, eye teeth clipping, debeaking, removal of skin (mulesing), battery cages, farrowing crates, faeces laden broiler sheds- let’s shine the camera light onto the everyday cruelties that these animals suffer.

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NSW Assistant Police Commissioner Geoff McKechnie is documented as stating that;

“These incursions fall into the ‘trespass with intent’ category, NSW Police have been investigating these incidents actively, but evidence gathering around such incidents presents significant challenges”.

No comment on the crimes exposed by activists?

Many may not be aware, but the NSW Police are also an enforcement agency under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. It is not just the RSPCA or Animal Welfare League that has powers to enforce and prosecute animal cruelty crimes, yet the attitude of government and the NSW Police is to leave enforcement to a poorly resourced charitable organisation that is almost completely unaccountable to government. Yet significant police resources are being used to investigate and pursue animal activists.

Statistics show that cruelty committed against animals often leads to crimes committed against people, yet, as can be seen from this attitude of the NSW Police, significant police resources are being used to investigate and pursue animal activists filming intensive farms. This shows a narrow-minded approach to tackling crime and future protection of the community. Would the community, or indeed government be satisfied if a child services charity were tasked with the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed against children? Would it be acceptable for the NSW Police to be actively pursuing whistle-blowers filming or recording child abuse despite the physical smacking of children being lawful?

NSW Police also told the forum that;

“the ideology of farm trespass by animal activists was “complex” and not based on improving animal welfare practices.”

This is correct, it is not the job of animal activist to improve animal welfare. This is the job of every stakeholder that attended this forum and their decisions should be based on truth, transparency, and the wider public’s expectations of what is acceptable welfare practices. Indeed, the activists are doing the job that all these stakeholders are failing to do themselves, that is to publish the truth to the public and allowing the public to decide what they expect. Instead, animal welfare is seen as an unnecessary cost to already profitable business models that seek to sanitise and disconnect the public from what really goes on behind the factory farm shed door.

The documents go on to suggest;

“Introduction of other measures to improve evidence collection, for example, security cameras may also be considered.”

How can someone, on one hand, justify installing elaborate security recording networks to deter activists YET dismiss sensible reforms such as mandatory CCTV of inside the shed or inside the slaughterhouse? Does one not stop and think that maybe, if farmers installed cameras facing in the shed, on the animals, then there will be no need for cameras facing outside the shed to deter activists?

animal-justice-party-ag-gag-1

Indeed, for me it has become personal. Twelve months ago I attempted to visit Rivalea pig slaughterhouse to discuss the cruel method by which pigs are subjected to gassing prior to slaughter. I was refused entry at the front gate and never left public space and yet I am currently the subject of a police investigation as a result of that visit. Again, this is a sign of cover up and intimidation, rather than let an elected MP formally tour the facility and witness the slaughtering method, I was denied access. Rivalea engaged their industry heavyweight, Australian Pork Ltd, and now almost 12 months to the day I am contacted by the NSW Police and informed that I am under investigation. It is true that, due to all the industry efforts to hide and cover up standard practices that they are ironically so proud of, they have in fact made the public more suspicious.

Mark Pearson MLCMark Pearson MLC

 

Bird Flu in 2016

2016 has seen bird flu outbreaks in many countries. Currently its “rocking” Europe, but earlier in the year it hit Iraq and South Korea . In Iraq’s case it was the H5N1, which can also infect and kill people, but the current European outbreak is H5N8.  This particular subtype of H5N8 bird flu was first found in China in 2014 but reached Europe in the same year. The globalisation of factory farming and its products will mean a steady increase in new viruses and its only a matter of time before there is another Swine Flu … a deadly species jump which killed some 284,000 people in its first 12 months.