Next Meeting

General Meeting
All welcome & free vegan
refreshments available!
Rm 9, Lvl 2, Griffin Centre
20 Genge Street, Civic, ACT
Thursday, 28 September 2017
6.30-7.30pm

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Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is Animal Liberation ACT?

Animal Liberation is, as the name suggests, committed to the liberation of all animals from all forms of human enslavement, oppression, and cruelty. This includes: farm animals (ie meat and production animals); animals used in research and teaching; animals used in entertainment (including recreational hunting, rodeos, circuses, zoos, horse and greyhound racing, animal shows, as well as activities already illegal in Australia - but not everywhere in the world - such as bull fighting, dog fighting, bear baiting, and the torture of animals in fiestas); wild animals (both native and introduced), and even companion animals (for example those kept for breeding purposes).

Animal Liberation ACT was formed in the late 1970s, around the same time as other Animal Liberation groups in NSW, Victoria, and Queensland. The phrase ‘animal liberation’ was coined by Australian philosopher, Peter Singer, in his 1975 book of the same name. Although the concept of animal rights was not new even then, Singer’s book helped launch the animal rights movement in Australia and around the world. As the title suggests, the book recognised that animal liberation is the last and greatest of all the world’s freedom movements – and of course it is the first dedicated to sentient beings who are not humans.

Drawing on the history of human liberation predecessors, we refer to ourselves as an ‘abolitionist’ organisation. Of course, this does not mean we want to abolish all human interaction with non-human animals, any more than our predecessors meant that women wanted nothing further to do with men, or that dark-skinned people wanted nothing further to do with fair-skinned people. We wish to abolish the assumption of human superiority and the exercise of power over those who do not have it, rather than the interaction.

Animal Liberation ACT itself was started by a local dairy farmer who was horrified when she followed the fate of her own dairy cows after they left the farm gate. Here are just some of our main activities over the years:

  • In the 1980s we assisted the Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal Societies (ANZFAS) with its submissions to the Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare. ANZFAS was the federation of animal societies formed around the same time as the Animal Liberation groups as an ‘umbrella’ or peak animal protection organisation to represent all the groups at the federal level. The NZ part of the organisation has now split off for reasons of size, and the Australian part became what we now know as Animals Australia.
  • We joined national campaigns against live animal exports; battery cages and broiler sheds; intensive piggeries, cattle feedlots, turkey and rabbit factories; duck shooting (including sending our own teams to hinder shooters and rescue birds); commercial and so-called ‘environmental’ kangaroo killing; the use of poisons, gases, and diseases against introduced wild animals; cruelty to animals in transport; and numerous other issues.
  • In the ACT during the 1980s we participated in the Australian Government working group that developed the ACT Animal Welfare Policy prior to ACT self-government. This Policy later morphed into the Animal Welfare Act 1992 (ACT), and we still nominate a person to serve on the ACT Government’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC) which was formed under that legislation.
  • We campaigned against rodeos, steel jaw traps, and animal circuses using wild animals, all of which were successfully banned under the Animal Welfare Act 1992 (ACT).
  • We campaigned endlessly against monkey and cat experiments at the ANU in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Our efforts resulted in the closing down of the ANU primate breeding colony.
  • In the late 1990s we campaigned successfully for compulsory desexing of dogs in the ACT.
  • We achieved passage through the Legislative Assembly of Australia’s first law to ban the battery cage. While the law passed, other States and Territories prevented it from being implemented due to Constitutional loopholes.
  • We scotched plans for both an intensive turkey factory and an intensive rabbit factory in nearby Yarrowlumla Shire (Yarrowlumla Shire was south of Queanbeyan and surrounded by the ACT. It has since been split between several other local government shires).
  • In the 2000s our main energies have been focused on battery hens and kangaroos because these are the two worst forms of institutionalised violence against animals currently occurring in the ACT. We are also directing a good deal of our energy at promoting a vegan lifestyle. On the ‘worst first’ principle, we are also focussing on the suffering experienced by intensively farmed turkeys in surrounding areas in NSW.

What has been the organisation’s biggest achievement so far?

See above for some of them. But it is hard to talk about achievements when the number of animals suffering steadily continues to increase commensurate with the steady increase in the human population of the Earth, Australia, and the ACT.

What developments in animal protection does Animal Liberation ACT expect in the near future?

In terms of campaigns, Animal Liberation ACT will focus on battery hens, kangaroo killing, poisoning of non-native wild animals, and rural neglect of sheep, cattle, and horses.

In terms of the potential for real change across Australia, there have recently been some exciting developments which are beginning to bear fruit.

  • The Voiceless organisation continues to fund discrete animal protection projects which extend knowledge and understanding among the public and government policy makers.
  • The establishment of a new political party, the Animal Justice Party, which at the very least gives those of us frustrated with the bipartisan anti-animal policies of the major parties an alternative party to vote for; at most it will actually begin to influence election outcomes around Australia, giving those blood-sport advocates in the Shooters’ Party a run for their money.
  • At its last annual conference the Australian Labor Party voted to establish an independent office of animal welfare. This has occurred largely in response to Animals Australia’s campaign to expose the cruelty of live animal exports (curiously, it was this very issue that led to the founding of ANZFAS, now Animals Australia, back in 1979-80). Even just the fact that animal suffering has finally attained the status of a matter of national significance with one of the current major parties has got to be a good thing.

Is there one definitive goal Animal Liberation ACT is striving to achieve?

The liberation of all animals from all forms of human exploitation, oppression, and cruelty is our goal.

In terms of shorter-term goals, we have the following, with (1) being the most likely to be achieved, to (4) being the last we expect to be achieved:

(1) The abolition of:

  • all forms of intensive farming;
  • all further destruction of wild animal habitat;
  • all killing of native animals whether for commercial or so-called conservation purposes;
  • all killing of non-native wild animals using inhumane poisons, gases, and diseases;
  • all use of animals in research, education, or entertainment that involves causing pain to the animal (where the use is not in the animal’s own interests); and
  • all breeding of companion animals that results in an oversupply of ‘pets’ which allows healthy animals to be killed.

(2) The abolition of:

  • all forms of animal farming;
  • all hunting or persecution of wild animals (either native or introduced); and
  • all “euthanasia” of healthy animals in pounds and refuges.

(3) The recognition that all animals are entitled to equal protection under the law.

And finally

(4) The recognition that animals’ rights to life and bodily integrity are entitled to protection under the law in the same way these rights for humans are protected.

What are the most simple and effective ways to stop animal cruelty?

The simplest and most effective way to stop animal cruelty is to stop consuming:

  • animals;
  • animal products;
  • products that are tested on animals; and
  • other products which are produced as a result of killing or harming animals.

While it is hard to avoid products that involve some degree of animal cruelty, it is a good start to become vegan, and to choose only cosmetics and household products from the ‘cruelty-free’ list. And anyone who really wants to stop animal cruelty can do even more than make the best consumers’ choices available to them. You can also make the best voters’ choices available to you, the best parenting choices available to you (including your ‘guardianship’ of companion animals); and the best career choices available to you. If people from Generation Y and Generation Z, for example, never agreed to follow the orders of their employer when those orders involved causing or turning a blind eye to cruelty, we would be rid of all animal cruelty within a generation.

What are the biggest problems in Australia when it comes to animal cruelty?

Part of it is not knowing. Part is not caring. Most of it is not wanting to know.

We can blame greedy farmers and ruthless businesspeople. We can blame gutless politicians. We can blame ignorant and intransigent bureaucrats. We can blame neighbours who care for nothing more than their next steak dinner and trip to the rodeo (the Romans called it ‘bread and circuses’)...

But our biggest problem are the good people who do nothing. These are the silent majority, and these are the people we need to reach out to and motivate.

Is there anything Australians need to know about animal cruelty that has not been made public?

Everything Animal Liberation ACT knows about, we endeavour to make public. We do not always succeed; we are in the hands of newspaper editors and TV and radio producers with their own agendas. But we certainly try.

One of the least publicised issues of animal cruelty is the treatment of so-called ‘pest’ and ‘feral’ animals. These animals are killed in ways that would not be tolerated for dogs and cats. There is a broad social acceptance that introduced wild animals are ‘bad’ for the environment and must be removed by any means, yet there is nothing resembling a scientific basis for this view.

In the end, however, it doesn’t matter which of the many animal cruelty issues get publicised or which you choose to focus on. Any issue that awakens more people to the fact that a particular animal is entitled to consideration extends that awareness to animals more broadly. If ‘pest’ animals are currently demonised beyond the reach of even the appallingly minimal protection enjoyed by factory farmed animals, every atom of work that raises the status of some other animal will ultimately raise theirs.

Well, we hope so, anyway.

 

 

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