(Animal Justice) Party Poopers: Why we’re Not Voting for the Animal Justice Party, even though we’re Vegans

By Nick and Katie

 

Animal-Justice-Party-600x300

 

Katie’s bit – the personalised, passionate part

For anyone assuming I would vote for the Animal “Justice” Party because I believe in animal rights and social justice, you’re wrong. This is the party that preferences the Liberal party. Their candidate attacked me and destroyed the animal rights group I was with, leaving me in a deep depression. One of their people said they would support homophobic legislation if it meant passing their animal welfare Bill. The worst kind of vegans are those who only care about animals and not any other social justice causes.

 

strange bedfellows

Image from getup.org.au – there were problems with the Animal Justice Party preferencing right-wing, racist, homophobic etc parties last election. Same again this time.

 

Nick’s bit – the impersonal, boring part

Preferencing the Liberal Party

The Animal Justice Party ‘supporting the re-election of Jason Wood [from the Liberal party] in the seat of La Trobe’ is a good example of their single issue, “it’s all about the animals” approach. They argue that they have done this because he supports a ban on the import of hunting trophies from hunting in Africa (hardly a controversial position in the West) and because he supported legislation to stop animal testing of cosmetics in Australia. This is despite the fact that Labor and the Greens also support this legislation along with the Liberal and National Coalition – it is going to get through anyway. Nevertheless, they ‘will preference him over his rivals’. This is because they argue that: ‘Any politician that supports decent treatment of animals, regardless of party, deserves our support’ (my italics).

 

This support is despite his atrocious voting record on human rights and social justice issues, which you’d expect from a Liberal party politician:

  • Voted very strongly against increasing scrutiny of asylum seeker management.
  • Voted very strongly against implementing refugee and protection conventions.
  • Voted very strongly against increasing protection of Australia’s fresh water.
  • Voted very strongly for privatising government assets.
  • Voted very strongly against increasing funding for university education.
  • Voted very strongly against extending government benefits to same-sex couples.
  • Voted very strongly for decreasing availability of welfare payments.

 

I guess all of this is beside the point for a party that solely focuses on (non-human) animals – humans are animals too! These issues are not even raised as concerns for the Animal Justice Party, who focus solely on his attitudes towards non-human animals. Interestingly, Wood’s voting record also shows a complete disregard for the environment:

  • Voted very strongly against a carbon price.
  • Voted very strongly against increasing marine conservation.
  • Voted very strongly for unconventional gas mining.

 

Crossovers between Different Issues

Wood’s voting record on these policies affects not just the environment as a whole but non-human animals specifically, who are harmed and killed as a result of environmental impacts such as climate change and loss of habitat. This demonstrates the crossover between environmental and animal rights issues. Indeed, there are strong links between all social justice issues, including human rights issues as well.

 

 

We care deeply about non-human animals but unlike the Animal Justice Party, that is not our single focus. We also see how the oppression of non-human animals shares similarities with and intersects with other forms of oppression, which we also view as important issues in their own right. For more on why we support an intersectional approach to animal advocacy, which views other issues such as human rights and environmental issues as also important, you can hear our talk ‘Intersectionality in Practice’ or listen to episode 93 of our podcast, which includes this talk and further discussion on intersectionality:

 

bobslide6

Cartoon by miriamdobson.wordpress.com

 

Policies Towards Non-Human Animals

Any party’s policies towards non-human animals are going to be limited within the current animal welfare framework, including the Animal Justice Party. They focus on ‘the phase out of factory farming’ and ‘the rapid phase out of live export and the slaughter of animals without pre-stunning for any reason; including religious beliefs’. So basically we’re left with the “humane” slaughter of animals, which we think is nowhere near enough to take the interests of non-human animals seriously – cutting their life short is a harm in itself. Their position on this is understandable, as no party will gain any traction calling for a complete end to animal slaughter. However, despite some important exceptions such as mentioning plant-based diets and opposing the kangaroo cull, their current policy for the vast majority of non-human animals who are killed by humans, which is for food, is the same as parties like the Greens – more “humane” slaughter.

 

The Animal Justice Party has (very slightly) better policies towards non-human animals than progressive parties like the Greens. However, it would only make sense for us to vote them if non-human animals were our singular focus. That is why we will be voting for progressive parties whose current policies towards non-human animals are inadequate (as are the Animal Justice Party’s), but who, unlike the Animal Justice Party, have strong positions on a wide range of other issues we care about, such as opposing the horrible treatment of refugees, addressing economic inequality and protecting the environment.

 

How We’re Voting This Election

Senate:
1. Socialist Alliance
2. Australian Progressives
3. The Greens
4. Australian Sex Party
5. Pirate Party
6. Drug Law Reform

 

House of Representatives:
1. HODGINS-MAY Steph – The Greens
2. McKENZIE-KIRKBRIGHT Levi – Drug Law Reform
3. VON DOUSSA Henry – Marriage Equality
4. DANBY Michael – Australian Labor Party
5. SMYTH Robert Millen – Animal Justice Party
6. HOLLAND Peter – Independent
7. GUEST Owen – Liberal
8. MYERS John B – Independent

 

Why We’re Voting This Way

We discuss why we’ve ordered the parties in this way on episode 138 of our podcast:

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10 thoughts on “(Animal Justice) Party Poopers: Why we’re Not Voting for the Animal Justice Party, even though we’re Vegans

  1. You know, there are any number of politicians and parties with social justice issues in their policy platform – clearly several even press your buttons as covering the right bases. But if by voting AJP I can get even one person into parliament whose FOCUS is animal rights and welfare, then I will be more than happy. Because it would be the beginning of something that hasn’t happened before – a true voice for animals in our political process. Non-human animals ARE my singular focus because it is they who have NO representation at all. And I am certainly not sending my vote to the Greens when their own leader happily fries up some animals on national television…

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    • ‘Non-human animals ARE my singular focus’.

      This single issue approach doesn’t make any sense to me, considering humans are animals too – why leave out one species? We are very familiar with this idea that it is only non-human animals that are important and other issues are unimportant/a distraction/something that needs to be sacrificed “for the animals” etc and I think this position has been extremely damaging to the movement – turning many people who are otherwise into social justice away from caring about non-human animals because in the animal movement it is often framed as non-human animals VERSUS other social justice issues, rather than all of these issues are important.

      Yes, we disagree with the Greens policies towards non-human animals (animal welfare), as we do with the Animal Justice Parties current animal policies (animal welfare – though the end goal/ideal situation is animal rights, unlike the Greens, the current policies are very similar) but this is just one of many important issues for us. As stated in the article, if your sole area of concern is non-human animals it makes total sense to vote for the AJP, if not, less so.

      Nick

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  2. Terina says:

    AJP isn’t about a single issue it is about non humans (All the other species) and the impacts animal industries have on not only animals but ‘Human’ beings and the entire Planet – AJP is taking on the long ignored and mammoth task of addressing the national and global ‘impacts’ these industries are having on the survival of this Planet. Progressive because they are addressing issues that impact the survival and future of this planet.

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    • Yes, advocating for other species is very important, which is why we’re both vegan animal activists. However, standing up for other species is no excuse for being indifferent to homophobia, racism etc in my opinion.
      Nick

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  3. I am a relative newcomer to the wonderful???? world of city living having resided and worked within remote areas for a large part of my life, but what I see is a concept that is so vital to the country of today being rent asunder by people that carry varying degrees of what this organisation should be targetting, look, let me insert my two bobs’ worth, please. Recognise that the organisation is up and running, which to my observation is remarkable within itself, and because there is a projectile moving forward, GET INVOLVED, O.K. perhaps the basic stated objective is not perfectively what you think it should be, but it has the capacity to change if there is a certain anount of internal rationalising from within the membership, embrace the stated goals, that is what got the whole show off the ground in the first place, obtain those goals and then present your arguement to retarget the missile to correct the aims of what you consider worthy of notice. Please, for all of our sakes, do not dismantle something that has, by this time, become a force to be recognised within the parliament of today.

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    • Yes. there is always an argument to get involved to try and improve organisations, rather than criticising from the outside. Some organisations though, I believe to be so fundamentally flawed that it is not worth trying to get involved. Considering people high up in the AJP seem to think it’s okay to support homophobia (for example) in order to advocate for animals means this organisation crosses that line for me.
      Nick

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  4. Li says:

    Super interesting reading the comments on this blog.
    I’d like to put forward a number of points mainly from a flawed, bias political science position:

    Firstly, it is really really unfortunate that Katie experienced this. I hope the party/people involved have come to some form of resolution. AJP is a new (very small, volunteer run) party, with somewhat rusty procedures. This shouldn’t be a reason to let AJP off the hook, but it is important to note that many small growing parties (or any organisations) often experience poor discipline. Indeed, the Greens (a large political party) recently had issues with volunteers experiencing sexual harassment in Victoria.

    Secondly, the AJP currently uses its political power via wheeling and dealing rather than having a fixed approach to preferences. Many different political parties have used/currently use this approach to further their campaigns or public image. Many parties (including the Greens Party predecessor the National Disarmament Party) have found this tactic helpful, although, it mightn’t be favourable in the long run depending on the party and politics at the time. This is why AJP might have preferenced Jason Wood – to begin their function as a wheeling and dealing party rather than having fixed preference. I think it’s difficult to know whether this is a good thing in gaining political power. It certainly makes no sense ideologically to the pro-intersectional approach, but I’m not sure if pro-intersections work well in our political sphere either (yet) (unfortunately).

    Thirdly, I’m not sure if it’s great to presume AJP is a homophobic party or has people high up who are homophobic. For sure, that candidate’s comments were rediculous and he was stood down by the party. Many political parties (including the highly highly funded Greens, ALP) have problems with candidate discipline. I don’t think it makes sense to right off AJP based on this especially as they stood him down and are a new, under resourced party. If it were to happen over and over again then I would be more concerned. A candidate certainly is not someone who is high up in AJP – although they might be if political parties in general weren’t so entrenched in heireichy.

    Fourthly, as a (still-learning) pro-intersectional activist I too have quelms about voting/supporting AJP. They are certainly not pro-intersectional. Unfortunately, our Australian political system is not very sympathetic to non-single issue minor parties. Since reform in senate voting in the 60s/70s, many more parties have opportunities for a platform and especially in the past 30 years most successful parties have been single issue. While not at all informed by my politics, in the real world (and stupid world of politics), single issue political parties seem much more likely to diversify the senate from the big 2 political parties. As a side note, it it seems odd, to be against AJP as a single issue party while 4 of the parties in PPAs senate preferencing appear to be single issue.

    It’s also worth noting that they are the only party prioritizing the concerns of animals. Let’s not act as though the Greens are or will. Their platform is largely environment, climate and refugee concerns and they would be silly to prioritise animals within their platform as they’ll lose voters. They are all important issues – indeed all issues are important.

    I quite liked PPAs justification behind voting for Socialists and I think that IF it sways the Greens then it’s probably the best vote. I’m not sure if the Socialist Alliance progressed well in the election. AJP may be more likely to both sway the Greens (in animal issues, rather then socialist) and collect some Senate seats as well. Even if some of their policies might be problematic, I feel like in the long term having a platform for the concerns of animals in the senate is better than not and it could be very important especially if capitalism continues for many centuries. (?)

    That is if the party doesn’t fold or fails to gain parliamentary representation in the next few years. In the realm of capitalist politics, I feel like it would be better to remain more agnostic, rather than writing off AJP as the worst kind of veganism especially seeing single issue political parties are regrettably the only parties likely to pull votes in our senate.

    Thanks to PPA for their criticisms and getting people talking about this stuff. Love this podcast.

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    • Hey Li,

      Thanks a lot for the constructive feedback and great to hear you enjoy the show!

      We returned to the issue of the AJP on the show recently but only briefly – episode 178: https://progressivepodcastaustralia.com/2017/07/31/178/

      I don’t think now is the best time for a more in-depth discussion on the podcast but have made a note to go through some of this feedback when we do our typical election episode next Aus federal election (I think it will be a more relevant issue for listeners then). But to address your feedback here for now:

      1) Thanks for that re Katie’s experiences and we certainly appreciate anyone within the party pushing for greater professionalism and dealing better with other groups.

      2) Definitely agreed this wheeling and dealing approach can be beneficial in promoting a certain issue/gaining power but doesn’t fit well with an intersectional approach. This is one reason (amongst many) why we are not associated with or involved with any political party – though we obviously have some we like more than others.

      3) Regarding the accusations of homophobia, there was that individual candidate who was stood down based on homophobia but the “high up” reference was actually based on someone high up in the party (not that candidate who was stood down) telling a friend of ours they would support homophobic legislation if that could help them achieve gains for animals. I realise that such in-person discussions probably won’t count as “evidence” for anyone except us but we totally trust this person so accept that there are people high up in the party who adopt this approach, which we are obviously very concerned about and opposed to.

      4) Regarding us preferencing other single issue parties, the parties we put the highest eg Socialist Alliance, Aus Progressive and Greens are not single issue. However, I’d also point to difference in degree when it comes to single issue parties. Focusing on one issue is one thing but actually working against other causes (as raised in #3) is another. Perhaps some of these single issue parties also do this and our criticism of the AJP has more to do with us having more experience with/knowledge of them as we have spent the most time within the animal movement compared to others. However, we certainly welcome hearing similar criticisms of other single issue parties if they exist and would also move them down the list if they adopted this approach of being happy to throw other causes “under the bus” to promote theirs.

      5) Re being the only party prioritising the concerns of animals, I totally agree that if animals are your sole issue of concern, then it is a no-brainer that your vote would be AJP. However, for those concerned about animals as well as other social justice issues, that question is much more complex. As noted in the article, I believe the AJP’s “end goal” policies are substantially better than the Greens but their policies for “right now” are actually mostly very similar (with some important exceptions, such as opposition to the killing of kangaroos). Their approach to animals is what Gary Francione would call the “new welfarist” position eg rights in the future but welfare now which we are not big fans of – at the very least, it’s not where we want to put our energy as far as animal advocacy.

      Regarding the Socialists, their proportion of the vote is always miniscule. I definitely agree that having greater representation of animals through the AJP could push parties like the Greens in a more “pro-animal” direction but as noted above, this is mostly in a welfare direction eg ban factory farming, live export etc so again, not something we’re too excited about/want to put our energy into. However, for those who do and want to try and push the AJP in a more vegan and intersectional direction, we get that and all the best to them. When I say “vegan direction” I don’t just mean individuals within the party are vegan themselves but also policies that more directly reflect this eg greater focus on vegan issues such as labelling etc, more focus on abolishing practices altogether and less on reforming them through more “humane” slaughter, bigger cages etc. Again, this is certainly not where we want to put our energies, not just because of our experience with individuals within the party but also because of our anarchist beliefs etc – voting itself is a compromise for us as anarchists but getting involved with a political party is another thing: https://progressivepodcastaustralia.com/2016/06/27/137/

      Regarding voting though, we will certainly consider all of this feedback when (and if in my case) we vote next time and possibly adjust the position of the AJP based on this, depending on what other parties are on offer and their policies etc.

      Thanks again for the feedback and again, we’ll return to the issue before the next election, but if you’d like to discuss this further in the meantime, I’m very happy to carry on the conversation here 🙂
      Nick

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