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Protecting animal abusers: the ‘ag-gag’ legislation and how it will impact Australian animals. 

Australian animal activists are struggling to comprehend the heartlessness of the actions of our ‘leaders’. Both the South Australian Government AND the Opposition are in support of ‘ag-gag’ legislation which is expected to pass this Thursday.

From abc.net.au this morning:
“Exposing animal cruelty will become harder once a surveillance devices bill passes the South Australian Parliament, the Law Society has said. T
he legislation has Government and Opposition support and is expected to pass when State Parliament sits on ThursdayIt would become a criminal offence to broadcast any video or audio obtained by covert means, unless a court agreed it was in the public interest. In a letter to SA Attorney-General John Rau, Law Society president Rocco Perotta labelled it an “ag-gag” law. He said it would prevent stories exposing animal cruelty from being broadcast, such as the ABC Four Corners report on use of live baiting in the greyhound industry.” abc.net.au 

 
Ag-gag laws are put in place to protect companies from scrutiny, despite the unbearable consequences to the animals that this legislation with impact.

Voiceless explains that these laws generally target “undercover investigators, whistleblowers and journalists, and may take three forms:

  • They criminalise the undercover or covert surveillance of commercial animal facilities.
  • They require that any obtained footage of animal cruelty must be turned over to enforcement agencies immediately, stifling long-term investigations into systemic animal abuse.
  • They require potential employees of commercial animal facilities to disclose current or past ties to animal protection groups.”Voiceless 

  

So what can we do to combat this legislation? Plenty. 

Contact your local MP: this useful resource will enable you to find and contact your local MP.

Sign the petition: you can sign Animals Australia’s petition here.

Get informed: visit Voiceless to further your understanding of these laws and the impact they have on animals.

Utilise Social Media: you can contact your local MP publicly via Facebook and Twitter. Leaving a public message will help to inform others while simultaneously pressuring leaders to do right by voters, and more importantly, by animals.

Hashtags are greatly effective. Try to include tags such as #NoAgGag and #AgGag to anything you post/tweet on the subject.

You can also share facts/memes/links as comments on applicable articles and posts on websites and social media. Comment sections are often a hotbed for debate and contributing your informed opinion often makes a world of difference. 

Spread awareness: so many Australians are unaware of the atrocities being committed in the agricultural business and/or the fact that our representatives are acting to aid in concealing this. What’s more, a vast majority of these unaware or misinformed Australians consider themselves strongly opposed animal cruelty. 

We cannot control what is being decided on our behalf in Parliament, but we can certainly do all we can to influence it. Our silence is not acceptable when those who are facing abuse do not have a voice of their own.   

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Is Labor Green with envy? Labor’s unwarranted attack on the Australian Greens.

Labor has stooped to a staggering low. Yesterday they waged an unprecedented and unwarranted attack over a deal made between the Greens and the Liberals regarding big-business tax transparency. The Greens did what Labor wouldn’t do – they made a move against the elephant in the room and struck a deal to ensure that Australians will no longer be kept in the dark about multiple large companies’ tax avoidance. This didn’t sit well with Labor as illustrated by Labor Senator for NSW, Sam Dastyari’s temper tantrum in Parliament yesterday: 

 Watch the full video here.

According to Dastyari, Labor was content to drag out their “tax campaign” even longer than the two years that they’ve already let pass by. How much longer do they think they have? It seems as though they’re already assuming a loss at the next election and that negotiations with the Liberals would continue for months (or years). Not good enough, Labor, we need tax transparency now. Thanks to the Greens we now have that. If it’s not to the extent that is desired, that’s the price we pay for electing the Coalition. For Labor to want to drag this out further in the hope that they could change the stance of the Liberals is ludicrous. And even if they could make them budge slightly, how much longer would that take, and would the wait have been worth it? But this is all beside the point.

Not only did Labor stall on such an imperative deal, they also seized the opportunity to diminish the Greens’ reputation in an attempt to sway any left-leaning swing-voters away from the Greens. In doing so, they’ve created an unnecessary rivalry which only serves to help the Liberals win the next election.

Perhaps most disappointing was Penny Wong’s involvement. An admirable woman who seemed to be above the LNP-style slandering, Senator Wong has always been a sentimental favourite of many. But thanks to the grandstanding yesterday, along with that of the rest of their party, Senator Wong, and subsequently, the Labor Party, has lost my support, and that of so many others.  

 Watch the full video here.

The official Australian Labor Party Facebook page also got in on the action a few hours prior, urging followers to contact Senator Di Natale personally by publishing his direct phone number. This was accompanied by a mass-email from Shadow Minister Chris Bowen urging supporters to do the same. 

  
To add fuel to the fire, Labor Senator Sam Dastyari also posted a meme that was designed to emulate an official Greens image, even (perhaps illegally) using their official logo. 

 Read Dastyari’s post here. 

Above the Greens’ logo there is a portion of the original image, indicating that this rush-job absolutely was thieved by Labor. What’s even more dumbfounding is that this was not a rogue action on Dastyari’s part. This is actually a Labor-authorised image. 

 

While these actions beggar belief, the Greens hit back with a calm, considered response:  
 

And this morning the Young Greens made the point(s) that so many Greens supporters (and former Labor supporters) were making yesterday, all wrapped up in a handy meme:

 

Labor’s fault here is threefold: they delayed taking any genuine action on the issue of big-business tax transparency for over two years; they have been spending their entire Opposition term (virtually) in hiding, except when they emerged to vote WITH the Liberals on issues that their supporters begged them not to (eg. data retention); and finally, they took this one instance as their opportunity to begin a smear-campaign against the Greens, all while giving the LNP a free, unopposed ride throughout this entire term.

There are simply no words for how unethical, unbelievable and unnecessary this is. Labor has overstepped their bounds and for what? Perhaps they feel that the Greens are a gentler target than the Liberals and less likely to come back swinging. Or perhaps they’ve finally noticed that they’re losing supporters by siding with the Liberals on key issues, but instead of reconsidering their stance on said issues, Labor is attempting to deflect by drawing attention to the one time this entire term that the Greens have struck any sort of deal with the Liberals. No matter what the reason, Labor’s actions were completely uncalled for. 

These dirty Liberal tactics are best left to the smear campaign experts themselves – the Liberals. At the very least they should be aimed at the Liberal Party, not the closest thing that Labor has to an ally. 

My girl, the vampire.

  

This is my daughter, Bella, in her Halloween costume from Saturday night’s local Halloween movie night. Yes, it was a ‘boy’ costume (on the packet, on the label, in the section), and yes, it’s freaking adorable. I didn’t choose it to politicise my child, nor did I choose it to prove a point. I simply bought this costume because it was much more awesome than the ‘girl’ costumes available. 
I didn’t see this selection as an issue, but apparently I was somewhat alone in that mindset. When told about the outfit, people close to me said, “oh, people will tell you that ‘he’s a cute little boy’” and “make sure you’re ready for everyone to think she’s a boy“. Someone even said that she’ll “be put in the costume contest in the boy category“. 

On the night there were certainly some onlookers who were clearly confused and politely dodged mentioning gender when complimenting our little vampire. Others said she’s an “adorable little boy”, and some realised (and mentioned) that she is a girl. None of it bothered us in the slightest, nor did it bother anyone else to realise that the adorable little vampire they were talking to was in fact, a girl in a ‘boy’ costume.  

At one point during the evening, we even had a photographer ask if she could take a photo of our “little vampire” for the newspaper. When we gave her Bella’s name for the form, she wasn’t confused or shocked at all, despite being ambiguous in her references to Bella before learning her name. It simply didn’t matter. Most telling of all, the people who were initially concerned about her potentially being confused for a boy ended up praising her little costume, despite it not fitting the typical ‘girly’ style. 

Here’s the thing – she wasn’t dressed as a vampire to make a statement, but nor will she ever be made to adhere to gender stereotypes. Quite simply, she’s a vampire because vampires are awesome. When she’s older and can decide for herself what she wants to be for Halloween, I want her to see that her very first time dressing up has set the precedent wherein she can wear any costume she wants, without being concerned about gender stereotypes. 
  
I guess the point is that you don’t need to adhere to gender stereotypes but you also don’t need to go out of your way to avoid them either. If Bella wants to, she can be the most glittery, pink little princess one Halloween, and Batman the next. Her imagination will determine her choices, not her imposed gender.

Horse (of a horse-drawn carriage) collapsed on the streets of Melbourne: how is this justifiable? 

 

Left: Horse-drawn carriage in Melbourne. Right: Wild horses living naturally.

When I was young, I always dreamed of riding on a horse-drawn carriage through NYC. It was such an overly-romanticised idea that was irresistible to even the most cynical of people. Strangely, it was while watching the episode of Seinfeld wherein Kramer looked after one of these horses that I began to question the ethics of such a practice. It was an odd notion to me at 8yrs old to view an animal as a vehicle, let alone one that was expected to compete with cars, buses, trucks etc. on busy city roads.

Yesterday this video emerged of a horse that collapsed on the streets of Melbourne. The person who captured the video alleged that the horse collapsed due to dehydration, which would seem a more than likely scenario. Though, the owner, Dean Crichton, from Unique Carriage Hire, has since threatened that they’re considering legal action against the Melbourne teen, claiming that the horse was not dehydrated. Regardless, the scene was a horrid sight. The video did not go viral because of the concerned teen’s assumption that the horse was dehydrated, it went viral because it was a wake-up call to Australians that a most-likely terrified horse was helplessly collapsed in the street, surrounded by cars and people.

Somehow this is still an acceptable and apparently lucrative practice. Perhaps it is the lack of knowledge that leads people to believe that this is an acceptable practice, but most likely it is due to their cognitive dissonance. We’ve learned to live with the idea that animals are nothing more than tools, food, entertainment, etc. but isn’t there something wonderful in the idea of evolving beyond this? Imagine a horse in the wild – in its natural environment, roaming free. Now imagine a horse, battling traffic, breathing toxic fumes, braving the scorching heat with no respite and hauling heavy loads every single day. And for what? For a moment of perceived joy in some person’s life. I would wager that most who choose to pay for the trip wouldn’t do it twice for sheer lack of interest and would enjoy the journey for perceived nostalgic purposes only.

An injured carriage horse in NYC (click for source).


The above is devastating to me. The footage, even more painful. But what is confusing is that not everyone feels this way, and that people still continue to legally use these old-fashioned gimmicks in the streets of Melbourne. Aren’t we better than this? In an age when we are finally starting to collectively understand the cruelty involved in greyhound and horse racing, how are we not aware of the impact that pulling a heavy cart on asphalt has on horses?

Aside from the actual car vs. horse accidents that occur, the day-to-day damage to these horses is undeniable. Their legs suffer from beating the asphalt each day. It is painful and dangerous, because once their legs give out, they are deemed permanently useless.

Then of course there’s the impact on their lungs. Imagine having to walk through traffic day-in, day-out. How do you think your lungs would handle the fumes? We barely keep our windows down in traffic due to the overwhelming toxicity of petrol fumes – how we expect these gentle giants to deal with it is beyond comprehension.

In some instances, (and perhaps narrowly avoided yesterday), horses have dropped dead from heatstroke after working in harsh heat and humidity.

Many claim that the drivers of these cruel modes of transport “love and respect” these animals. I greatly beg to differ. In an article about a horse that had the carriage collapse on it when it was spooked in Manhattan traffic, the driver openly blames the horse and offered it no care or concern. To add insult to the horse’s (literal) injury, the driver was witnessed “shouting at the horse” before the crash. One witness said “it looked like the driver was having a fit. He was screaming. He couldn’t control the horse,” So much for love and respect.

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2434082/Horse-flips-midtown-traffic-breaking-carriage-trapping-animal-underneath.html

What ‘love and respect’ looks like – a horse spooked and subsequently crushed by its cart in NYC (click for source).

Perhaps it’s years of conditioning – being immersed in a society where we believe that horses belong in saddles and bridles. But if you think back to what a horse is supposed to be; a gentle, free, wild beast, it is absolutely heartbreaking to juxtapose this image with what a horse is to us now.

You can take action now by signing this petition and/or joining the ‘March for the horses‘ on October 9th, 12:30pm-2:30pm at Bourke St Mall, Melbourne. If you’re a Melbourne local, it’s worth following the page Melbourne Against Horse-Drawn Carriages. You can also take a stand by boycotting this cruel and outdated practice and urging others to follow suit.

UPDATE: the teen who posted the video has apologised for the “misrepresentation” after being threatened with legal action. Somehow people view this as vindication for the carriage owner, rather than a pressured apology. Regardless of how or why the horse fell – whether it was a bite from another horse, dehydration or being spooked – people were still outraged to see this beautiful beast collapsed in the street because it simply did not belong there. Taking this post at face value is naive, just as it is naive to take the word of carriage drivers as gospel. Of course they’re defending the way they treat their horses, but that’s not the issue. Using them to fight traffic every day is, in my opinion, careless and vile. If you are curious about whether this is an ethical practice or not, don’t take anyone’s word for it, do a quick Google search. What you see might hurt you more than you think. 

Con-artist or genuine animal activist? Jaylene Musgrave under fire.

Jaylene Musgrave (from Facebook).

Last night would have been confronting for high-profile animal activist, Jaylene Musgrave as she was asked to answer to some very genuine questions about her animal fundraising. A Facebook post from a keen-eyed member of an Australian Vegan group (of which Mulgrave is a member), began the speculation in which other responses seemed to support the suggestion that Musgrave’s fundraising practices are suspicious. 

Touting herself as a “vegan warrior”, Musgrave has a highly complimentary explanation of her work as an animal activist on her own website, veganwarriors.com.au Therein she names celebrities and others of note who are her “supporters”, including Joan Jett who is named as an “ambassador”. 

Given that Musgrave’s legitimacy is being marked by supposed celebrity endorsements, it’s no wonder that there are many animal activists questioning the true destination of raised funds. Musgrave does her ‘fundraising’ solely via Facebook and receives payments only by direct bank deposit, never by PayPal. It has been noted by many that the clothes, shoes, handbags, etc that she is advertising on her pages, Vegan Warriors – Jaylene Musgrave and Fundraising for Animals are being sourced directly from eBay and other discount websites, and being sold for up to ten times the cost. The photos being used on Musgrave’s pages have been lifted directly from the original stores, indicating that stock is possibly not even in Musgrave’s possession.
One rightfully confused buyer mentioned that she had just purchased an item from Musgrave for over $130, only to be told that she will “order them now” and it would take around 10 days to arrive. Taking all of this into account, it would seem that Musgrave is selling items that she has seen online, (using the photo that the original store has used), with a hefty mark-up. Without being sure, it seems that Musgrave is then ordering the product from the actual store (for a low cost) and having it posted directly to the buyer. The buyer then receives a low-quality item for a high cost with the remainder of the money going directly into Musgrave’s pocket.

 Left – the original eBay listing. Right – Musgrave’s Facebook post. 

This apparent scamming aside, the question now is, does that money then get passed on to an actual organisation or charity, or does it remain with Musgrave? As far as I can find, Musgrave has no listing as a business or charity, and no legitimate information as to where exactly the funds raised are going. In a generic message that Musgrave sends to new Facebook friends, she mentions that “all monies to A.R campaigning”. The problem is, A.R Campaigning doesn’t seem to actually exist, and if it does, I will gladly stand corrected.

 

 

At the very least, it is almost impossible for Musgrave to know whether or not her products are ethically-made, let alone vegan. By using her name and standing within the vegan community to sell what is essentially a mystery product in terms of production, Musgrave has betrayed her own values and those who have trusted her enough to buy from her. At the very worst, she has created a trusted persona amongst the animal activism community with the intention to dupe people into believing that they’re donating funds to the most vulnerable of creatures. If this is true, it is indeed a betrayal towards the animals that Musgrave purports to protect.

It would be wonderful to be proven wrong in this instance – I would love nothing more than to discover that this is simply a misunderstanding. It is highly doubtful, however, as Jaynele Musgrave has been asked numerous times and given ample opportunity to answer the one simple question: “where is the money really going?”

Activist Receives Personally Threatening Letter From Anon Australian Company

  

The group ‘Palm Oil Investigations‘ has begun a powerful movement against the use of palm oil due to its environmental impact. Palm oil is commonly found in consumables and is a prominent ingredient in many Australian products.

Leading a charge against un-certified palm oil on Australian shelves, POI has made a massive impact by educating Aussies as to both the consequences of the use of palm oil and the specific products in which palm oil can be found.
  
An example of the important work that POI does.

They also have plans to soon release an app that will allow users to scan a barcode or search a product to quickly and easily ascertain as to whether or not it contains palm oil. Apparently news of this app has at least one company feeling cornered to the point that they actually threatened the volunteers behind the POI group

The cowardly anonymous letter leaves little to the imagination:
  
  
While the police investigate, we should all do our part to stand up to this company and the industry itself by following and supporting the POI page here and by making use of the app when it becomes available. 

A must-read for all stay-at-home parents.

If you’re feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and just tired of being surrounded with all things baby/children, you are most likely a stay-at-home parent. For so many, it’s a thankless, 24-7 job that often earns little (if any) kudos in the modern world. We spend our days and nights on the schedule of our tiny little bosses and sometimes feel we would give anything to have a bathroom break alone. That’s why love and support is often imperative to our mental health. 

Last Saturday, Affirmation by Mr. Right on Facebook posted an reminder of what we all should try to tell ourselves when we are covered in baby vomit, chasing after a bub who has just discovered the wonder of walking or crawling, or cleaning – endlessly cleaning – all day long:

STAY-AT-HOME MUMS (Warning – long post!)

I’ve got to share a conversation that I had with my husband with you because if you are a stay-at-home mum who has had one of those days where you’ve felt beaten, doubtful and jaded by the end of the day….this might change your perspective on your role. It did for me.

So I was complaining the other day to husband that I never get anything done with my 15 month old and 4 year old children at home. My list of chores hardly gets a smudge let alone wiped clean and life as a stay-at-home mum is exhausting! After some time, he says to me… I think you have forgotten why you’ve been ‘employed’ by us…..??? I’m confused, but he goes on to say,

‘If you died tomorrow and you had all the money in the world, who would YOU pay to raise your children when you’re gone? He specified that if it couldn’t be him or family members….who would I trust? Who would I trust to love them, to nurture them, to challenge them, who would know their routines, their idiosyncrasies, their medical history, their diets, their moods, their likes, their sensitivities and their hurdles….who could offer all of this to them?’
Then he asked, ‘And if, by miracle, you found someone who COULD provide all of this, in a full-time position, who was willing to work EVERYDAY, in sickness or in health……what would you be willing to pay them?’ 
‘Thousands.’ I said, without
hesitation. 
‘But even then, they could not do a better job than you are doing. YOU are THE expert on our children. THE Specialist. Quite frankly, we could not afford your services…..and yet, that is what you provide everyday for our children. You are not ‘employed’ to clean the floors, make the dinners, wash the clothes, etc…if these things get done, it is a bonus, NOT an expectation. You are ‘employed’ as the state-of-the-art, expert in the field of raising our children…..and darling, you’re doing an exceptional job.’
He is a bit of a legend and the conversation really has changed my perception of my role as a stay-at-home mum.

Hope it might yours…if you’ve had one of those days. x – from Affirmation by Mr. Right

From all of us who needed to hear it, thank you to Kate Wright and her wonderful partner for reminding us of what matters in the most unforgiving mummy-moments. We all know that we are lucky to be able to watch our little ones grow but it never hurts to have a reminder of how important being a parent truly is.