Sunday, May 30, 2010

Victoria Votes, or: political machinations and the Animal Justice Party of Australia

The Melbourne Magazine - something I usually find oddly entrancing despite the intense navel-gazing - has run an article in which Ted Baillieu and John Brumby answer questions posed by Victorians. 

The answers range from the straight-talkin' (here's Brumby on whether the government will raise the drinking age to 21: "I don't support that because to be honest I don't believe realistically it could be achieved or implemented") to the infuriating (how about this corker by Baillieu in answer to a question about street violence in the CBD: "We have set out a very cleat strategy to deal with it, and that's, in part, police numbers ... We've also said that we need zero-tolerance enforcement. We will get rid of suspended sentences, we'll get rid of home detention and we'll put an end to what is talked about in police circles as the notion of a free hit.").

One question posed that is very important to me is this one from Peter Singer:
"Will you empower inspectors to make routine, unannounced visits to Victorian factory farms so that the public does not have to rey on the occasional whistleblower with courage enough to report when animals are kept in cruel conditions that violate the law and the government's own codes of practice?"
Victoria goes to the polls on 27 November. The answers to this question will help me decide on my vote (I'd also love to see an answer from the Greens, whose animal policy is here - it's welfarist  in position but with some excellent points) and although I am not trying to sway your vote, I hope these answers will help inform your own considerations and decision-making process (which as a responsible citizen of a democratic nation you will of course undertake before casting your vote). 

John Brumby: 
"We're not looking at any changes in this area at this point in time, but let me say that animal welfare is a very important issue to our state. How you ensure appropriate welfare for animals is the sign, I think, of any civilised society, and so it is fundamental that businesses that operate in our state should and must operate within the laws that are set in place".

Ted Baillieu:

"There will be, from time to time, occasions where the wrong thing is being done but I have great faith in our farming sector, and I think the system is working reasonably well, at present, to identify any inappropriate practices".

In the federal sphere (federal system of government ... three tiers of government... ) is the newly forming Animal Justice Party of Australia. Niki has already written about this new political party here. I'm really pleased that the issues I am most interested in are garnering enough support to warrant a political movement. I'm under no illusions that the AJP will sweep into office and declare the new state Veganstralia, but a political voice reflects community concern. It will be hard to present serious animal-related issues in a way that gathers general community support without coming across as craaaazy-vegans or making people think that their Saturday BBQ snags will be subject to armed raids (I want omnis' support. I would like to confiscate their snags too but it's no way to ensure our issues get a sympathetic hearing outside of Veganville), but I'm glad they're tackling it. I think I'll join .

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