0 Comments

A prominent animal rights activist has put his hat in the ring for the upcoming federal election. 

Chris Delforce, former Director of Aussie Farms, the organisation which released a map disclosing the locations of farming operations and covertly filmed livestock, has nominated as a candidate for the Animal Justice Party.

The move has angered the farming community, Victorian Farmers Federation President Emma Germano said.

“Is there any wonder that Australian’s are getting so totally sick of politics in this country when you hear [people like that are running,” Ms Germano said.

Protecting livestock

Mr Delforce said he was running for the federal Senate as he believed animals should have their rights represented in the parliament. 

“Animals are completely forgotten by those who represent us… Yet there was a report commissioned in 2018 by the federal government that found 95 per cent of respondents care about farm animal welfare,” the Farm Transparency Project director said.

“I’d like to get into a position where I can push for education programs about what is happening to animals, push for more incentives for farmers who no longer want to be involved in these fairly cruel industries.

“And it also comes back to our environment, we know that animal agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, and yet the federal government is ignoring that.”

Each icon on the Aussie Farms map was clickable and provided more information on each listed property.(Image: Aussie Farms)

As an animal rights activist Mr Delforce was behind the film Dominion, which featured covertly filmed images of livestock from Australian farms and lead to major anti-farm protests across the country.

“As an activist, it is easy to be overlooked and ignored by those who have the power to [protect the welfare of farm animals through federal legislation],” Mr Delforce said. 

“If I were to be elected I could push for [federal farm-animal welfare legislation], such as banning live exports, especially if I was in the position of holding the balance of power.”

Animal activists blocked cars and trams outside Flinders Street Railway Station in 2019.(ABC News: James Oaten)

However, Mr Delforce conceded that any reform to intensive animal agriculture would take time.

“I’m a vegan but I’m not going to get everyone to go vegan overnight — we’re not going to get a law in place that’s just going to ban animal farming,” he said.

“But what I can push for is animal cruelty laws that apply regardless of the species, regardless of the purpose that species is being used for.

‘Dangerous to industry’

A majority of Australian’s support the nation’s farmers, Ms Germano said.

“This is a man who doesn’t reflect the mainstream Australian view, the reason why people are supposed to enter politics is to represent people,” she said.

“To me, this looks like another PR effort to stroke his own ego.

Emma Germano says Chris Delforce would be a danger to the animal agriculture industry if elected to the federal Senate.(ABC News: Andrew Altree-Williams)

Ms Germano said some of the actions previously endorsed by Mr Delforce, such as farm trespass make farmers feel “terrorised”.

“As an industry, we need to call out trespass when someone jumps over somebody’s fence and steals a goat or brings a lamb into parliament with a nappy on, that’s farmers duty to speak out against that,” she said.

“Whilst we have an obligation to farm within community expectations that form of protest is just not acceptable.”

Three goats were removed from the Gippy Goat Cafe in 2018, sparking a conversation about animal rights activists trespassing on farms.(Supplied: Gippy Goat Cafe)

Ms Germano said she has reached out to Mr Delforce on multiple occasions to have constructive discussions about animal welfare but he never responded.

“Ultimately, if there is something a consumer doesn’t like about a particular practice, they have the choice to go out and buy something else — that product is also grown by another farmer.”

‘Long shot’

Federally, the Animal Justice Party (AJP) has not been successful in gaining seats in the Senate or House of Representatives. 

Mr Delforce will be second on the AJP ballot for a Victorian Senate seat, with Bronwyn Currie leading the ticket.

Political analyst Mark Kenny said candidates from minor parties struggle at the ballot box.

“It’s possible for these parties to get elected but if you’re not the number one candidate of said micro-party then I think it makes it much more difficult,” the ANU Professor said.

Political analyst Mark Kenny said the Animal Justice Party gaining a federal Senate seat is a long shot, but more likely than previous elections.(ABC News)

“Some of those minor parties will swap preferences [with other parties], that has been done to significant effect a few times.

“They have to break through the habits of voters. Most people, historically, have considered themselves either Coalition or Labor supporters.”

Voters in regional and rural communities were less likely to trust a political party with a “radical” animal rights agenda, Professor Kenny said.

“They fear for the sovereignty of farms, privacy issues, and they see it as a demonisation of the traditional farming way of life.

Chris Delforce speaks at a protest at SBA Hatchery in Bendigo 2016.(Facebook: Aussie Farms)

However, Professor Kenny said Mr Delforce’s notoriety in the animal activism space could garner him votes.

“There are many people who have very strong concerns [for animal welfare and the environment], that’s probably a growing number of people… this strand of opinion might show up in the electoral results.”

Author

gtsemil@gmail.com