RSPCA: Politics is not just for politicians

by Lee Hopkins on August 29, 2007

in Uncategorized

Click this image to visit the RSPCA blog

There are bad things afoot, I fear.
Mark Peters, the Executive Director of the RSPCA in South Australia, has just posted a very clear warning to the RSPCA’s members.

He first posted a subtle warning yesterday, but today came out with all guns blazing.

The issue? The threatened takeover of the RSPCA by Animal Liberation activists.

“What’s the problem?” you might ask.

Well, the RSPCA is duty-bound to obey the law (no matter that the law is sometimes an ass) and act according to the powers bestowed on it by the Government, as enshrined in various Acts.

The Animal Liberation activists have no such duty; they use, as Mark puts it, “colourful and questionable tactics.”

Activist Jamie Yew pretends to suck milk from “Freeda” Animal Liberation activist Jamie Yew pretends to suck milk from “Freeda”…
…whilst the press and tourists hungrily take photos


Now, in a series of media appearances, various members of Animal Liberation (SA) have ‘outed’ their intentions to take over the running of the RSPCA.

Channel 7 News 27/7/07
“The reform nominees need to win 3 of the 5 vacant positions to take control in September” – Channel 7 Reporter

I don’t know about you, but I can’t see that if they DO gain control of the RSPCA that they will suddenly stop their ‘colourful and questionable tactics’ and follow the law, can you?

In which case, the RSPCA will very likely lose credibility overnight.

As Mark puts it in another post,

“The RSPCA has no problem with animal rights organisations voicing their particular concerns to the community at large. They have their own associations set up for that purpose and people who support their policies and methods are free to join them.”

The RSPCA has long been engaging constructively with Government about the welfare of animals — the new Animal Welfare Act is proof of the success that comes from consistent, reasoned, grown up consultation and negotiation within the framework of the law.

The law can be changed, humanised, made more decent for animals, but it is a long, consultative process and not, as some would naively think, something that can be achieved by throwing an egg at a politician and chanting a few slogans.

For over three years Animal Liberation Victoria have been conducting weekly demonstrations outside Melbourne’s central KFC as part of the international KFC Cruelty campaign.


As part of a larger campaign, Animal Liberation have joined forces with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) to add a more global voice to their very understandable concerns.

Nobody is denying them the validity of their cause. No reasonable human being enjoys watching animals suffer. But sometimes there are ways of working with the establishment that eventually meet goals, and sometimes there are ways of behaving that just ‘p*ss’ people off and discredit the cause.

I personally would hate to see the great work that has been done over the last century by the RSPCA in SA be undone in a matter of weeks or months.

Ashley Fruno, a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), encages herself at an animal rights demonstration outside a Bangkok KFC outlet. PETA activists were protesting KFC’s treatment of chickens. Photo: AP


The RSPCA of SA is one of my clients. This, however, in no way shapes or informs my opinion on this matter.

I firmly believe that there is a place for showmanship, loud presentation, ratbaggery and egg throwing. I just don’t think it works in Australia over legislative matters, no matter what political party is in power. The largest peace time demonstrations ever held in Australia failed to win a ‘sorry’ from the Government or stop us going to an illegal war that could never be won. Howard has never apologised about the ‘children overboard’ scandal, has he, or did I miss that?

I certainly don’t believe that if Labor gets into power anything will change. I remember when Blair first came to power in the UK with the heart-stopping demolition of the Conservative Party. Everyone felt a ‘wind of change’ blow across the UK. But the wind, in the end, was only rhetoric.

Politics is politics, and politicians are politicians. Forget the colour of their party; remember it is politicians from all parties who vote themselves massive pay rises at the same time that they deny nurses any but the smallest of increases.

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