• Animal Justice Party logo

    Unity Principles

    Together, NSW MPs Mark Pearson and Emma Hurst have developed a set of unity principles to guide their decision making within State Parliament.

    We believe in the in core principles of Kindness, Equality, Rationality and Non-violence. We believe it is our duty to take the ethical path and create a humane national identity by building a society in which both animals and people – including First Nations people, people of colour, immigrants, those living with disability, LGBTQI+ people and those from all class backgrounds – are free to live out their lives as they choose. We understand the way to do this is to support sustainable and ethical practices that raise the status of animals, strengthen our economy, lower our housing, healthcare and transport costs and ensure we create a bright future for our animals and our children.

    Animal Rights

    Our top priority is to ensure all animals are treated ethically and have the right to live out their lives free from cruelty, exploitation, abuse, and torture. We believe that non-human animals deserve human representation in politics to protect this right, and ensure that they are considered in parliamentary and political decision making.

    Environmental Justice

    We believe that every person and animal in our community has the right to clean air, clean water and access to shared public lands. Thus, we believe it is our responsibility to protect our climate and environment by ending the exploitation of natural resources for corporate gain and supporting a sustainable Australian future.

    Economic Justice

    We believe that every person should have access to a means to support their family and live a dignified, healthy and productive life. To do this we understand that citizens of NSW and Australia must have the ability to share in the wealth and resources of the economy, as well as a right to adequate housing, healthcare, transport, food and water.

    Worker’s Rights

    We believe in an ethical and sustainable economy without animal exploitation that is driven by transparency, accountability, security and equity. We believe both men and women should be paid equitably, with access to healthcare, childcare, paid leave and a healthy work environment. We believe an integral part of this is establishing a living wage so families and their companion animals can live in safety and security.

    Civil Rights

    We believe strongly in civil rights within the Australian community, including voting rights, religious freedoms, and protections for all our citizens regardless of their race, gender, culture, age or disability. Only with strong civil rights do we have strong rights for animals.

    Ending Violence Against Women

    We believe that women’s rights are human rights and violence against women is a direct and harmful violation of these rights. We believe it is our moral obligation to dismantle the gender inequalities faced by women, allowing all women regardless of age, race, culture, disability or biological sex to live their lives free of all forms of violence and abuse.

    Reproductive Rights

    We believe strongly in the reproductive rights of women and that all women should have safe access to quality reproductive healthcare services, birth control, disease protection, and science based sex education. Within this we believe all people should have access to safe, legal, affordable birth control and abortion options regardless of income, location, race, culture or education.

    LGBTQI+ Rights

    Flowing from our core value of equality, we believe LGBTQI+ rights are human rights. We understand it is our responsibility to support, expand and protect the rights of the LGBTQI+ community. We believe that each one of us deserves the power to control our own body and live free of gender norms, expectations or stereotypes if we so choose.

    Disability Rights

    In line with our core value of equality, we believe that disability rights are human rights. We recognise the importance of breaking barriers to inclusion, access, choice, and control faced by those living with disability in our community. We work to assist people with disability and their companion animals to be included in and contribute to all aspects of Australian life.

    Asylum Seekers

    We believe in the rights of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers regardless of status or country of origin. Acting on our core principles, we believe that those seeking asylum must be treated ethically, kindly, and with respect, and may not under any circumstances be removed to countries outside of those approved by the UNHCR.

  • Nothing humane happens in a slaughterhouse

    Milton Griffiths. History in the making.

    Animal activism in Australia has a fascinating and, mostly, quiet and understated recorded history spanning far back. The records are mainly indented in archives of the media cataloguing extraordinary achievements such as the issue of freedom of speech and privacy leaping all the way to the High Court on the back of possums slaughtered in Tasmania. 

    Well now this has changed!

    MILTON GRIFFITHS has written memoirs navigating through an intriguing and colourful history of animal activism going far back to the late 1980s. These memoirs are poetically and alluringly crafted with almost forensic analysis together with warmth, wit, humour and satire. 

    This work is a refreshing and inspiring yarn to read. For some of us it will bring back memories which are well worthy of re-kindling. For the latter activists of today – a welcome surprise to learn that ‘sophisticated’ animal actions happened which laid important ground for future work, a ground that upheld freedom of speech and a right to see how animals are treated even on private property while people risk their personal liberties to expose it.

    Please, set some time aside to read this well crafted, historic memoir of a deeply respected and otherwise, quiet warrior for animal protection – Milton Griffiths:

    Milton Griffiths and Animal Rights

  • Support for Sydney nightlife

    Being an openly gay man and having enjoyed the gay strip from as far back as the controversial late 1970s I appreciate and support the importance of a relaxed, diverse and unfettered Sydney night life.

    Before the last NSW parliament rose Robert Borsak had introduced a bill to repeal the current lockout laws which did not reach debate or a vote due to time.

    I made it clear that I would support the bill as long as the amendments would make it strictly incumbent upon the venue operators that serving alcohol to heavily intoxicated or abusive and disorderly people would be a serious offence and that it would be their duty to peaceably escort such people off the premises.

    Mark Pearson

  • Naree Pon

    COMPANION ANIMALS DESERVE CONSIDERATION IN RESIDENTIAL RENTAL AGREEMENTS

    17th October 2018

    RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES AMENDMENT (REVIEW) BILL 2018

    Mark Pearson moved an amendment to the Residential Tenancies Amendment (Review) Bill 2018. The amendment would ensure that companion animals would be given consideration in residential tenancies for renters.  The amendment was supported by the Greens but not by the Government or Opposition.

    The CHAIR (The Hon. Trevor Khan): There being no objection, the bill will be taken as a whole. I have three sets of amendments: the Animal Justice Party amendment on sheet C2018-119A, the Opposition set of amendments on sheet C2018-123 and The Greens amendments on sheet C2018-122.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (11:50): I move the Animal Justice Party amendment No. 1 on sheet 2018-119A:

    No. 1Companion animals

    Page 3, Schedule 1. Insert after line 24:

    [2]Section 19 Prohibited terms

    Insert after section 19 (2) (e):

    (f)that a companion animal of a person who is lawfully residing on the residential premises is not permitted to be kept on the premises. This amendment is a double negative and relates to companion animals:

    No. 1Companion animals

    Page 3, Schedule 1. Insert after line 24:

    [2]Section 19 Prohibited terms

    Insert after section 19 (2) (e):

    (f)that a companion animal of a person who is lawfully residing on the residential premises is not permitted to be kept on the premises.

    The 2016 Census figures show that more than 30 per cent of households in Australia rely on rental accommodation for their housing needs. Combine that figure with the fact that 62 per cent of households have companion animals and we have a significant social problem with the lack of legal protections for tenants with companion animals. This problem is escalating as housing affordability causes many people to remain tenants, often for life. In Europe, where renting is the norm, there is legal recognition that tenants should not be unfairly restricted from experiences such as living with pets.

    A landlord may own a property to derive income and capital gains and it is obviously not unreasonable for them to want to protect that asset. As a society we recognise the benefit that private landlords bring to the housing sector for people who cannot afford to buy their own homes or who are not eligible for social housing. However, we must also acknowledge that the landlord’s asset is also the tenant’s home. I believe that it is entirely reasonable for tenants to be able to enjoy the same benefits of living with companion animals as do home owners. It also helps to address a terrible tragedy, that is, the increasing number of tenants who are forced to surrender their animals to pounds and shelters.

    RSPCA statistics show that 15 per cent of the dogs and cats that are surrendered are because people are moving house and cannot not find accommodation that allows companion animals. As a society we intervene in the operations of many commercial enterprises on the understanding that it is for the public good. We legislate to ensure that retailers must sell food that is not adulterated, that a motel owner cannot refuse to book a room for a gay couple, and that property developers must comply with building standards to ensure public safety. We do this because we believe that public health, welfare and fairness is important and that the “market” is unlikely to provide those protections if left to its own devices.

    Landlords are currently free to refuse tenants and the consequences are such that most landlords choose the easy option of not allowing any pets, without any consideration of the social, physical and psychological benefits that companion animals have in the lives of humans. We live in a society where single and older person households are on the rise. These two groups are at risk of social isolation. For older persons the isolation may be due to physical disabilities or illness. Both groups may struggle with the lack of social interaction leading to anxiety and depression. Psychiatrists at the University of Rochester Medical Center undertook research which found that those living with pets were 36 per cent less likely than non-pet owners to report loneliness. We know that human beings are social animals and that loneliness is a killer. Older adults who report feelings of loneliness are at an increased risk of many serious physical and mental health conditions, including death.

    There have been many research studies undertaken that show a raft of health benefits from living with companion animals. Human-animal relationship lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and people recovering from heart attacks recover more quickly and survive longer when there is a pet in the home. For people living alone, a companion animal may be the only affectionate touch they experience through their day. Petting an animal is known to release oxytocin, a hormone that reduces stress as well as boost levels of serotonin and dopamine, which promote alertness and a sense of wellbeing. According to beyondblue, it is estimated that 45 per cent of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime and that in any one year approximately one million Australian adults will experience depression and more than two million will have anxiety.

    According to depression research, being responsible for the care of an animal promotes mental health. Self-esteem is improved when people realise they are capable of caring for another sentient being. For people debilitated by depression, living with a companion animal brings a structure to the day and may be the only reason that they are able to get out of bed. Feeding, caring and exercising a beloved animal provides positive feedback and helps with healing from depression. I note that the Victorian Government has recently amended its residential tenancy legislation to allow pets in rental accommodation and that the Queensland Government has a similar provision before its Parliament. If our sister States are able to recognise the case in favour of companion animals, then surely we can join them in that compassionate approach. Allowing tenants to have companion animals will not only significantly improve the wellbeing of people but also quite simply save lives, both human and animal. I commend the amendment.

    The Hon. CATHERINE CUSACK (11:56): The Animal Justice Party amendment is not supported by the Government. Companion animals are not defined under the Companion Animals Act 1998 as a dog or cat. Properties vary greatly and different types of pets may not be suitable for some properties. The landlord and tenant are best placed to negotiate on whether a particular pet would be appropriate for a property. The Residential Tenancies Act leaves the issue of whether a tenant can keep a pet—but not an assistance animal—to be negotiated between a landlord and tenant, and the Government considers that that is appropriate.

    Mr JUSTIN FIELD (11:57): The Greens support the amendment moved by the Hon. Mark Pearson on behalf of the Animal Justice Party. The Greens had a similar amendment to ensure that those living with companion animals are not unfairly impacted by these changes and that the Residential Tenancy Act supports them to continue to live with their pets. There are more people living in rental properties than ever before. Many of them have pets and these pets are an important part of their family. Certainly I have had that experience living in rental accommodation. I have been fortunate to find rental accommodation where it has been possible for my family to have our pets. I know how important our pets are to my young son. It is important that we keep families together, including the non-human parts of our families. The Greens support the amendments moved by the Animal Justice Party.

    The Hon. PETER PRIMROSE (11:58): The Opposition appreciates the intent of the amendment moved by the Animal Justice Party. We are concerned about the need to ensure that there are not unintended consequences. The best way of doing that is to have consulted fully with all stakeholders involved to ensure that the outcome is both fair and balanced and that there are no negative impacts that we are aware of. While we appreciate the intent, for the reasons I have outlined at this stage the Opposition does not support the amendment.

    The CHAIR (The Hon. Trevor Khan): The Hon. Mark Pearson has moved Animal Justice Party amendment No. 1 on sheet C2018-119A. The question is that the amendment be agreed to.

    Amendment negatived.

  • baby chicks

    CHILDREN AND THE NATURAL WORLD

    25th September 2018

    Adjournment speech.

    Mark Pearson on children and their natural empathy for animals.

    As adults we cannot fail to observe a child’s innocent delight in interactions with animals. On a more prosaic note, science tells us that a child’s amygdala, the most ancient part of the human brain, is hardwired to respond to other animals.  When measuring brain activity, scientists found that neurons in the amygdala became extremely active when the subject was shown pictures of animals. The right hemisphere of the amygdala is the storage space where young brains respond to emotional stimuli, creating categories of animals such as prey, play or predator.

    E.O. Wilson, a biologist, coined the term “biophilia” to describe the biologically determined affinity of humans with the natural world, including the inherent empathy humans have for other living beings. It explains the emotional desire to protect creatures that are small and vulnerable.

    Very young children are drawn to animals, especially baby animals. Babies are more likely to smile at, talk to and touch live animals rather than mechanical animal toys. Studies of the dreams of pre-school children reveal that as many as 90% of their dreams are about animals. There is also considerable evidence that children derive emotional sustenance from their companion animals, often talking to their pets when lonely, afraid or sad.

    Early childhood educators have recognised that children thrive when they spend time in natural settings that include opportunities for interactions with animals. .   Unlike adults who have been socialised into a transnational view of animals; what they can provide in the way of food, clothing or entertainment, children recognise the intrinsic value of animals; that simply because they are living creatures, they are important. Children innately understand that they are part of and not separate to, nature.

    As social media videos show, children have the openness and capacity to bond with any kind of animal. A chance encounter with an orphaned magpie can trigger a lifelong passion for native birds. When children are introduced to wild animals, a whole new world opens before them.  Even endemic wild creatures such as ducks, possums and lizards can absorb a child’s full attention

    The fictional wall that human society has built to delineate between human and animal is invisible to children. Children are curious to know about all the different ways of being an animal. As any story teller knows, a child is endlessly fascinated about animals live. They love to hear the sounds animal make, the homes they build, what and how they eat.  Children are amazed by the ability of animals to fly, swim through the water and climb high in the trees, or seem to disappear through camouflage.

    Introducing children to the natural environment and wild animals can help children develop empathy for animals.  Research also reveals that when children are encouraged to care for companion animals, they tend to be more sensitive and caring toward other people as well. A growing body of evidence shows that children who are supported in their care for animals tend to generalise that love to other living things.  Developing caring relationships with animal can lead to deeper feelings of empathy in young children, more positive peer relationships, and social-emotional development.

    As children have experiences with animals, they learn about differences and similarities, needs (such as for food, shelter, water and space), and compassion and empathy can grow and deepen.

    Conversely, if children are not exposed to the natural world in a positive way, their developing amygdala may only learn the fear response to animals and the natural world.  Their innate sense of connection to nature can be overridden by adult role modelling.  At worst, children may develop biophobia, an aversion to nature. Children may learn to become fearful of insects and animals not found in highly urbanised environments. These children are at risk of growing up to undervalue the environment and to have little regard for animals as sentient beings.

Page 1 of 612345...Last »