Animal rights party would fight against cruelty in Senate
A FLEDGLING animal rights party will field up to 12 Senate candidates in the Federal Election, as it fights against what it sees as animal brutality in Australia.
The Animal Justice Party - the brainchild of economic and ethicist Professor Steve Garlick - has been registered for two years.
Prof Garlick was galvanised into action after despairing over kangaroo culling in Canberra, where he lived at the time.
"Having witnessed that and seen the response of people to it, I decided lobbying and just wringing your hands in despair was not enough," he said.
"The only way to get governments to change their attitudes towards animals was to deal with them on their own basis.
"The only language they knew was their votes."
Over five years, that passion evolved into a political ambition and now a party with an estimated 1500 members.
Prof Garlick said the first goals of the AJP once in the Senate was to have the live export trade banned, then begin cracking down on any Australian abattoirs treating animals inhumanely.
Ultimately, the AJP wants to see abattoirs and livestock industry wound down, encouraging Australians to turn away from consuming meat.
"Our first task is not to clobber around the head those meat organisations that do have a strong approach to animal welfare," he said.
"But the eventual goal - this is an industry that we ethically and morally cannot accept in the long run.
"Our vision is that we move towards a plant-based diet."
A spokeswoman for Australia's top agriculture group - the National Farmers' Federation - said the AJP was less about protecting animals and more about pushing a vegetarian diet.
"The Australian public will make up their own minds about their diets and on election day, their representatives," she said.
"In the meantime, Australian livestock farmers will get on with continuously improving animal welfare."
There will be two AJP senate candidates for the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
A final two for Queensland are likely to be included but the party is yet to make a final decision.
The AJP's voters, Prof Garlick expects, will come largely rom urban areas, poaching support from the Greens who he feels have done little to protect animal rights.
"Governments are prepared to wear animal brutality for the sake of their own ends," he said."Someone has to stand up and say that it's not good enough."