All political parties have now lodged their Group Voting Tickets (preferences) for the upcoming Victorian state election. The Animal Justice Party is running in all eight upper house regions, along with nine lower house seats, so both upper and lower house preferences are relevant.
If you vote ‘above the line’ with a ‘1’ in the AJP box for the upper house, your vote will follow our Group Voting Ticket. If you wish to, you can vote below the line, and put as few as 5 numbers (1 to 5), or as many as you like, in order to show YOUR preference.
Similarly, for the lower house seats we will give you a How To Vote card at the polling booth showing how to Vote 1 for AJP, and what other parties to vote for 2, 3, 4, etc. The most important part of that for us is to Vote 1 AJP. If you want to change the other numbers around because of some other firm convictions, we are fine with that.
The Animal Justice Party represents the interests of non-human animals. Our concerns for preferencing are similarly focused on their interests. We care about where a party or candidate stands on animal issues more so than where they stand on a wide range of other ‘human’ issues, such as economics, social policies or other issues typically placed on a ‘Left to Right’ axis. We look at the policies of the parties, as well as their record of achievements, with respect to animals. Are they for or against duck hunting? Jumps racing? Puppy mills? Have they campaigned on these issues? Has their policy improved as they have been presented with the evidence of the harms caused by these practices?
The Liberal / National coalition government in Victoria under Premier Denis Napthine and Agricultural Minister Peter Walsh have been a disaster for animals. They are strong advocates of duck shooting, and have gone out of their way to criminalise the rescue of wounded (shot) waterbirds, enlarging penalties and increasing policing. They said they would reform puppy mills only to renege on their promises under industry pressure. They gave additional public money to subsidise Jumps Racing, continuing this dying ‘sport’ and causing the deaths of many more horses. We have placed them last of the major parties and hope they are removed from government until such time as their attitude to animal issues changes radically.
The Labor party under Daniel Andrews is little better on many of these issues. They support Jumps racing and Duck shooting, despite overwhelming public condemnation. Where the Labor party has been very good is in response to our (and others) lobbying to improve conditions for dogs. While they have not agreed to implement a ban on puppy mills, they have committed to significant uplift in the conditions that dogs must be provided and the policing of these facilities, including an uplift in the funds available to the RSPCA inspectorate, and increased powers to shut sub-standard facilities down. They have also committed to a review of the awful Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) provisions that allow innocent dogs to be killed by the state, and a moratorium on the execution of dogs until that review is complete. We are grateful for these changes, and see an ALP government as one that gives us some hope of gaining better conditions for animals.
The Greens stand somewhat apart from the two old parties in their commitment to (at least some) animals. They support our key election platforms of ending Jumps racing, duck shooting and puppy mills. As with Labor, they have agreed to a review of the BSL laws. The Greens have a policy to end factory farming (battery hens and sow stalls, for example) and, at least in Victoria, have consistently argued against the commercial culling of native wildlife like Kangaroos. Of the major parties, The Greens have the best approach to tackling climate change, a grave threat to non-human animals and human civilisation alike.
We have preferenced The Greens highest of the major parties, and hope they can take a balance of power position in the upcoming parliament. Our second hope is that they use that power to make significant improvements in the lives of animals. We understand that not all AJP voters will like The Greens on other issues and we know in other jurisdictions (eg ACT) The Greens have supported animal brutality. If you dislike some other aspects of their policies, and want to preference other parties, that is fine, Vote 1 AJP and do those other preferences yourself.
There is a wide range of minor parties standing in this election. Too many to categorise and review here. We have simply assessed their position on animals (where they have one; many do not) and given them an appropriate rating. In addition, as a way of trying to maximise the chances of getting good results for animals in the next Parliament, we have asked these parties to sign a pledge. The pledge commits a candidate to supporting our key issues of a ban on jumps, duck shooting, puppy mills and factory farming. It also commits them to regularly meet with us and other representatives of the animal protection movement if they are elected to office. In this way, even if we are unsuccessful ourselves, we may be able to build a significant coalition of politicians who are committed to reform of animal law. Finally, the pledge asks them to consider their own lifestyle choices to see the impact of them on non-human animals. We now have a range of political candidates that have signed the pledge.
Of course, there are a number of parties that seem uniformly uninterested in animals, or positively terrible for them. A consistent feature of our preferencing across every election is that the Shooters and Fishers Party has been placed uniformly last.
In seven of the nine lower house seats we have placed The Greens as our first preference. In the other two, we are supporting excellent independent candidates that have signed our pledge. We hope they win. Independent fair-minded analysts suggest that they probably will not. If so, our vote will flow through to The Greens, who, in a number of these seats, have a reasonable chance of winning the seat.
For the Upper House we have placed the majors strictly in the order GRN/ALP/LIB/NAT. The difference is that we also must preference up to 21 parties in a region. Typically there is a range of smaller parties with good or neutral policies towards animals with which we have ‘swapped preferences’…meaning that we will direct preferences to them ahead of the major parties, and they will do the same for us. This maximises our chance of winning a seat. Many of these minor parties or independents have signed our pledge, providing a good alternative, should we miss out on winning ourselves.
Many parties could provide little comfort to us that they were prepared to do anything at all for animals. We have grouped these at the end of our ticket, where our preferences are, in any case, unlikely to flow to any of them. We will always be prepared to support individual candidates from each party, whatever that party may be, if those candidates themselves are serious animal advocates. We are also prepared to withhold our preferences from those candidates who are terrible for the animals, even if they were to be in the Greens for example. We have not seen any case for such action in this jurisdiction for this election.
We have given ourselves every chance of winning one or more upper house seats, should we get enough primary votes. If you want to stop animal cruelty, give your votes to the animals.