Live ex­port in­flu­encer

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - NEWS - Natalie Kot­sios news@ru­ral­weekly.com

A MODEL from NSW’s Cen­tral Coast with a pas­sion for ve­g­an­ism has more in­flu­ence on the pub­lic live ex­port de­bate than the RSPCA, Na­tional Farm­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion and politi­cians com­bined.

A sin­gle so­cial me­dia post in April from Sheri­dyn Fisher back­ing the end of live sheep ex­ports had the po­ten­tial to reach four mil­lion Face­book fans and more than 679,000 In­sta­gram fol­low­ers, new anal­y­sis from ru­ral and re­gional com­mu­ni­ca­tions strate­gists Red­handed shows.

The pop­u­lar­ity of Ms Fisher – who ap­peared in a PETA veg­e­tar­i­an­ism cam­paign in 2012 and has writ­ten a book on ve­gan liv­ing – means she is reach­ing more mem­bers of the pub­lic than pol­icy-mak­ers.

RSPCA Aus­tralia, in con­trast, has 283,000 Face­book likes and 9580

❝Here we are, 32 years down the track, and we’re not get­ting any­where... — Jim Gall

In­sta­gram fol­low­ers, and the NFF has 229 In­sta­gram fol­low­ers and 8190 Face­book likes. In pol­i­tics, the lead­ing voices on live ex­ports are well be­hind: the Aus­tralian Greens have 265,000 Face­book likes, the Na­tion­als have 13,094, and Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter David Lit­tleproud has just un­der 12,500.

“This is truly news to me. I had no idea about that at all,” Ms Fisher told the Ru­ral Weekly’s sis­ter pa­per The Weekly Times.

“My intentions have al­ways been to help those that are suf­fer­ing and I wanted to use what­ever voice I had, and use my plat­form, to help those who don’t have a voice.”

Red­handed chief ex­ec­u­tive Jim Gall said one per­son with a strong so­cial me­dia fol­low­ing could dra­mat­i­cally in­flu­ence the con­ver­sa­tion.

“If we re­ally want to change the sen­ti­ment we need to ap­proach a Hugh Jack­man, or Nicole Kid­man or Keith Ur­ban – some­one who has a huge fol­low­ing,” he said.

Red­handed’s re­search shows Aus­tralia is dom­i­nat­ing the on­line dis­cus­sion on live ex­ports world­wide – and the vast ma­jor­ity of that chat­ter is not in the in­dus­try’s favour.

Mr Gall, who is also an Euroa sheep farmer, said it was time to end the trade, ar­gu­ing it was harm­ing Aus­tralia’s “clean, green” rep­u­ta­tion.

“Here we are, 32 years down the track, and we’re not get­ting any­where,” he said.

PHOTO:FILE

BIG POWER: Sheri­dyn Fisher has the power to reach more peo­ple in the live ex­port de­bate than pol­icy-mak­ers or the Na­tional Farm­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion.

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