An­i­mals Aus­tralia spreads its wings

CPI Strate­gic di­rec­tor and Field & Game Aus­tralia ad­viser Rick Brown looks at the im­pact of An­i­mals Aus­tralia tak­ing the lead role in op­pos­ing le­gal duck hunt­ing.

Field and Game - - Animals Australia spreads its wings -

Dur­ing the 2014 Vic­to­rian elec­tions An­i­mals Aus­tralia and RSPCA Vic­to­ria jointly or­gan­ised a full page ad­ver­tise­ment in The Age op­pos­ing duck hunt­ing tar­geted at La­bor which was then in op­po­si­tion. The ef­fect of their cam­paign was to sup­port the Greens over La­bor in in­ner-sub­ur­ban seats.

This ini­tia­tive was the first in­di­ca­tor that An­i­mals Aus­tralia, fol­low­ing on from their suc­cess in un­der­min­ing Aus­tralia's live beef ex­port trade to In­done­sia, was tak­ing over the anti-duck hunt­ing busi­ness from the Coali­tion Against Duck Shoot­ing.

Dur­ing the open­ing of this year's Vic­to­rian duck sea­son An­i­mals Aus­tralia un­der­took ac­tiv­i­ties rang­ing from be­ing the voice of the anti-duck hunt­ing move­ment through ar­gu­ing for the in­tro­duc­tion of manda­tory, an­nual tests for duck hunters to at­tempt­ing to sab­o­tage the open­ing of the duck sea­son.

This devel­op­ment is a re­minder of how well re­sourced and so­phis­ti­cated an­i­mal lib­er­a­tion or­gan­i­sa­tions such as An­i­mals Aus­tralia and the RSPCA are to­day.

For ex­am­ple in the 2014–2015 fi­nan­cial year An­i­mals Aus­tralia, af­ter spend­ing $3 333 000 on aware­ness cam­paigns, still had a sur­plus in ex­cess of $1 mil­lion. Its re­tained sur­pluses now to­tal al­most $6 mil­lion.

RSPCA Vic­to­ria alone had an in­come of more than $33 mil­lion for the fi­nan­cial year end­ing June 30, 2015 and al­most $44 mil­lion in net as­sets. They spent more than $1 mil­lion on ed­u­ca­tion, cam­paigns and com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

Be­quests are crit­i­cal for the RSPCA. In the 2015 fi­nan­cial year be­quests to­talled more than $9 mil­lion. In the 2014 fi­nan­cial year they to­talled more than $7 500 000.

De­spite this bal­ance sheet, Up­per House MP James Pur­cell un­der­stands ‘bad fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions have been made whereby it has ac­tu­ally spent $40 mil­lion build­ing a new head­quar­ters for its ex­ec­u­tives, and it has trans­ferred a $30 mil­lion profit into a cash-negative sit­u­a­tion since 2010. Since that time the gov­ern­ment has pro­vided the RSPCA with over $8 mil­lion in grants.' He also un­der­stands that ‘costs are in­creas­ing out of pro­por­tion with the de­creas­ing num­ber of an­i­mals that it is look­ing af­ter' (Hansard, Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil, 8 March 2016, p.1023– 1024).

Mr. Pur­cell said that Aus­tralia re­mains the only coun­try in the world other than New Zealand where the RSPCA has leg­is­lated pros­e­cu­tion and en­force­ment priv­i­leges. He think that this must be re­viewed.

Mr. Pur­cell's view is shared by the United King­dom's Na­tional Po­lice Chiefs Coun­cil which rep­re­sents chief con­sta­bles.

In a sub­mis­sion to the Par­lia­men­tary Com­mit­tee on En­vi­ron­men­tal Food and Ru­ral Af­fairs, the Coun­cil said that the RSPCA'S ‘long stand­ing good work and ex­per­tise in this area should of course be recog­nised but it ought to be right that the pri­mary en­forcer with re­spon­si­bil­ity for this area should be a sin­gle agency, prefer­ably a statu­tory body funded by Gov­ern­ment'.

The Coun­cil's de­ci­sion fol­lows: • the Crown Pros­e­cu­tor's Ser­vice as­sum­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for de­cid­ing whether or not to prose­cute hunt­ing cases, • the char­ity reg­u­la­tor's telling the RSPCA in March to hire au­di­tors to con­duct an in­quiry into its or­gan­i­sa­tion and struc­ture, and • the RSPCA'S rein­ing in its in­spec­tors in Fe­bru­ary by ban­ning them from re­hom­ing an­i­mals un­less vets have per­son­ally seen ev­i­dence of suf­fer­ing. >>

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UK Con­ser­va­tive MP and Com­mit­tee mem­ber Si­mon Hart said that hand­ing over the role of pros­e­cut­ing an­i­mal wel­fare cases would al­low the RSPCA to ‘re­pair its tat­tered rep­u­ta­tion'.

He said, ‘there is in­creas­ing recog­ni­tion that try­ing to be a po­lit­i­cal move­ment, tire­less fund raiser and vo­ra­cious pros­e­cu­tor has re­sulted in a con­flict that we would not ac­cept in any other walk of life.

‘There are nu­mer­ous ex­am­ples of other coun­tries and wild life char­i­ties that do good work, but who rely on the po­lice and crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem to im­ple­ment the law, '

April, 9, 2016 10 pm, Christo­pher Hope). The in­ter­ests of the RSPCA are wide and var­ied, and in­clude ad­vo­cat­ing for bans on duck and recre­ational hunt­ing, jumps rac­ing, whips in horse rac­ing, the use of ex­otic an­i­mals by cir­cuses, the use of fos­ter mares by the thor­ough­bred in­dus­try, and the live ex­port of an­i­mals. An­i­mals Aus­tralia cam­paigns on a sim­i­larly wide range of is­sues: duck hunt­ing, live an­i­mal ex­port, rodeos, the use of an­i­mals in uni­ver­si­ties and schools for re­search and ed­u­ca­tion pur­poses, and ad­vo­cat­ing veg­e­tar­i­an­ism to pre­vent slaugh­ter­house cru­elty). This demon­strates that an­i­mal lib­er­a­tion is a busi­ness, and a big busi­ness at that.

Com­pe­ti­tion be­tween the play­ers is in­tense as they pitch to an in­ner sub­ur­ban au­di­ence with high lev­els of dis­pos­able in­come for fi­nanc­ing by try­ing to out-do each other in the ex­trem­ist or coura­geous (de­pend­ing on your point of view) im­age stakes.

The RSPCA has the ad­van­tage of in­cum­bency and pres­tige. How­ever this ad­van­tage is also a li­a­bil­ity be­cause many of its fi­nanciers (i.e. donors) do not un­der­stand its trans­for­ma­tion from an an­i­mal wel­fare or­gan­i­sa­tion to an an­i­mal rights or­gan­i­sa­tion and would be un­com­fort­able about this rev­o­lu­tion if they did, as the RSPCA in the United King­dom is dis­cov­er­ing.

More re­cent or­gan­i­sa­tions such as An­i­mals Aus­tralia, PETA, Voice­less, An­i­mal Lib­er­a­tion and Hu­mane So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional have nei­ther the RSPCA'S ad­van­tages nor its lim­i­ta­tions. Con­se­quently they are able to be more nim­ble and imag­i­na­tive and are less con­strained in their mar­ket­ing strate­gies.

The al­liance be­tween the RSPCA and An­i­mals Aus­tralia which ob­vi­ously is in­tended to max­imise their strengths and limit their weak­nesses re­flects this com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment.

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