With the elections coming up this July, we thought it would be a great idea to sit down with Bruce Poon for an interview. Bruce is the convenor of Animal Justice Party and the lead candidate for the Senate in Victoria. He has been a friend and customer of ours for many years; we admire all the work that he does for the animals.

Vote Animal Justice Party-1

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Bruce, and what are you up to in lead to the election?

I’ve been vegan or vegetarian for about 30 years. After I became vegan, it didn’t take me very long to think about what else I could do for the animals. I got involved with organisations like Vegetarian Victoria and then directly with some of the animal causes, like horse races and factory farming. We were constantly begging politicians to change the law and being ignored. So that’s when I realised that I wanted to be in politics, it was the final frontier for animals. The first thing I did was to join the Greens. But it was very limited because, even though some people were interested in animal welfare, there was always some resistance. So the Animal Justice Party started and I joined it.

There are some campaigns that can be won now, before the election is even held – a good number of votes allow us to negotiate with other political parties’ support we need on issues that are important for animals.

Did you always have political aspirations?

I never had any political aspiration. I developed aspirations for a more peaceful world where there was no violence towards animals. I looked at politics and just realised that it was a lever we weren’t using.

When did you become a member of the Animal Justice Party?

I became a member in 2012. The 2013 federal election was the first election that we ever stood at. We stood in two seats in the lower house in Victoria and in the Senate, and got 0.75% of the votes. As a new party, this was really encouraging, especially because the election came about very quickly and we were not experienced. We are a lot more organised now and our vote doubles or triples every time we stand.

Were you ever involved with activist groups?

I’ve been involved with activism for the environment or the animals most of my adult life. I’ve done things like swimming in front of nuclear ships, filming inside factory farms and doing rescues. I’m still out there rallying and rescuing ducks, rallying when race horses die every week or two. I think talking to the public directly about these issues is really important.

What do you think about all the vegan alternatives that are available now?

It is very hopeful. Australia is not really leading the way here, but we could. We want to promote these industries and we want to show people that they can make a living without exploiting animals.

What do you think about the current relationship between humans and animals?

It is very broken in our society. But when you go to a farm animal sanctuary like Edgar’s Mission, you can see that relationship how it should be, you can see animals brought up in a healthy, caring environment and how much they love their life and how animals and humans can get on so well. That’s the future we’re aiming at.

Why do you think it is important to have a party that focuses on animal welfare in our society? What does the AJP stand for?

It’s important because no one else does it. (Animals) are the majority and their interests must be represented in the political system or they will continue to be exploited. Once you change the law to look after the interests of animals, the whole weight of society swings behind the law. Our party stands for the interest of animals. We represent the values of kindness, nonviolence, equality and rationality.

If you had to give 3 promises from this election to the voters, what would they be?

What we’re looking to do is some representation. We’ll be pressuring the government of the day, whoever that is, to get an independent office for animal welfare. We want to take away the responsibility from the department of agriculture to look after animals, as there is a terrible conflict of interest there.

We also want to stop factory farming. While we might not have universal veganism anytime soon, it’s still worthwhile to get rid of battery cages. We want to ban live export; we want to stop the kangaroo culling and the slaughter of Australian native animals.

What kind of support do you need from the voters?
The great thing about politics is that you get a platform to stand up for animals, bring those issues to the table and make them political. By voting 1 for the Animal Justice Party, people are sending a strong message to the other major parties that they want animals to be considered.

We’re not trying to take the government; we know we won’t get 50% of the votes. Our aim is to get 4 to 5% of the votes. If we get that sort of vote, we will get federal support for us as a party, we will get senators in various states, and we will be the fourth political party in Australia. About 96% of people say that they’re against animal cruelty and that they want it stopped; we want to give them a mechanism to allow their desires to be fulfilled.

Would you like to say something to the voters?

If people are interested in helping animals, then please consider what role politics might play.

We’re also always looking for support. People can join the party, donate or help us with the elections. We would really love to have more volunteers representing the animals.

The Animal Justice Party http://www.ajpvic.org.au/ will be running in the Federal Election on Saturday, July 2nd.

To join their campaign of kindness and help put animals on the political agenda with 4% of the primary vote, please click the following link: https://chuffed.org/project/ajpvic2016

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