In Australia, neither of the two major political parties have shown any indication they will do anything other than pay lip-service to ongoing demands for an end to the export of live animals to overseas markets, or for legislation to rein in the dreadful levels of animal abuse that occur in our home-grown industries. There has been some timid movement on the live sheep export front recently as the result of the appalling footage I have a link to at the end of Section 2, Down at the Slaughterhouse, but the barbarities continue unabated despite this. Apparently, our politicians think the live export of species other than sheep is OK when demonstrably it is just as bad. At the end of the day, each party puts what they believe will help them win the next election ahead of any morally difficult decision, no matter how compelling the arguments in its favour. For a local example we need look no further than at the way the New South Wales state government’s 2016 ban on greyhound racing collapsed when it thought it might cost them votes. That’s all it took. What appeared at first to be a brave decision, based on a large amount of truly horrifying animal welfare evidence, soon became one of ungainly backsliding and political expediency. Self-interest won the day and the animal suffering goes on and on. If you can take it, and it won’t be easy, here is some footage of ‘live baiting’ in Australia’s greyhound racing industry.
Prior to its disgraceful back-flip, the NSW government made it very clear that this kind of behaviour is not just that of a ‘few bad apples’ but is in fact widespread.
The grim reality is, even if a large majority of the Australian population was in favour of new and more powerful laws to protect our most vulnerable animals, it is unlikely that their views would be respected by any parliament in the land: state, territory or federal. The influence of big money, greasy palms, and the loud, insistent voices of unscrupulous lobbyists invariably win the day meaning we do not live in a democracy at all, and the so-called ‘will of the people’ means nothing unless it can be translated into a cold fear that electoral seats and superannuation payments will be lost.
Look at the failure to enact voluntary euthanasia laws in all Australian states except Victoria when 70% of the population supports this legislation,lxiii or the requisitioning of a humiliating and unnecessary postal survey to decide the legitimacy of same-sex marriage when a significant majority of the population already supported the concept.lxiv When governments refuse to act in the parliament when they have these levels of public support, democracy is reduced to a farce. Again, I emphasise, the best way to bring about change is through the collective actions of ordinary people acting outside the political system. Fortunately, the issue of animal welfare is beautifully positioned in this regard because the best way to curtail the activities of all the major animal-abuse industries is to stop buying their products. No other action is needed, although a great deal more can, and is, being done by inspired people all over the world.
If you are among the inspired, some things worth trying are sharing your thoughts online, talking about it with friends and family, taking centre stage in public discourse, joining animal welfare agencies and those political parties that take animal welfare issues seriously, creating stories and documentaries in film and music, exemplifying it in other forms of art, keeping pressure on local politicians through correspondence and meetings, organising community events and presenting information sessions in schools. The arguments for animal welfare, and the associated effects on the environment and human health, are clear, simple and logical. They are based on compassion and common sense but getting a wide range of people to listen to and respond to them is the hard part and it takes hard work to get there.
At the time of writing (April 2018), the feature length documentary Dominion, which looks in detail at animal abuse in Australia (written and directed by Chris Delforce) has just been released and the James Cameron-produced film about veganism, The Game Changers, is not far away from public release, and hopefully both find wide audiences outside the vegan community. High profile vegans such as Cameron, the director of the movies, Avatar and Titanic (among others) can play a crucial role in getting information into the public domain and they deserve to be commended when they do. It is just the sort of action we need to circumvent inert and complicit governments, which have let animals down to such an enormous degree.
This list of famous vegans may be of interest to some people. I don’t know how they managed to leave Mike Tyson off the list. That’s a real oversight.