“In my opinion, we have the strongest climate change policy because we’re addressing animal agriculture.”
The Animal Justice Party’s Chisholm candidate Rosemary Lavin wants young people to vote for the party with the strongest climate change policy.
“I get the feeling that especially the young people, with all the rallies they’ve done, climate change is the number one issue. We won’t have a planet unless we start looking after it – there will be no jobs on a dead planet,” Lavin said.
She said young people were going to be crucial in this election. However, none of this is new for her.
From the day she was born in South Africa, Lavin has always loved animals.
“I’ve always had an affinity for them and, all my life, I’ve rescued animals, no matter where I am, there’s an animal in need, and I’m always looking after them,” she told D*scribe.
In South Africa she taught music and maths in secondary school for 14 years then became a guidance counsellor, which gave her the opportunity to debate animal issues and the effects the human diet has on the environment.
Feeling burned out from teaching, Lavin changed gears and moved to Australia.
“It (the South African education system) was vastly different. There’s not a lot of support there for teachers, so I decided I was going to be an office worker. I’m now working as a technical training officer in an energy distribution company,” she said.
In her first federal election after becoming a citizen Lavin knew she was going to vote Greens, but then she attended a vegan festival. It changed her life.
“There was a stall saying ‘Animal Justice Party’, and it was as if all the puzzles of my life just slotted together. I knew that this was the meaning of my life because I knew that if we get someone into Parliament as an Animal Justice member, we will save more lives than one individual person can. We can legislate for them,” she said.
Lavin was Treasurer for AJP Victoria from 2014-2017, working on campaigns to ban horse jumps racing, protect grey headed flying foxes, release dogs and cats from Victorian laboratories and end factory animal farming.
Fast-forward to the 2019 Federal Election, the fifth the AJP will contest, she sees the importance of a range of issues in Chisholm.
“I know that most of the Chisholm voters are interested in financial issues in security like superannuation and education,” she said.
“All the other parties deal with electricity, gas, coal and all of that, mining to a certain extent, but the Animal Justice Party is the only party that looks at animal agriculture and its effect on climate change.”
In the 2016 Federal election, Lavin ran for the seat of Aston, but this time she senses a strong feeling of anxiety around the nation.
“Minor parties, especially the AJP, are feeling buoyed by the fact that it’s definitely going to be the minor parties that will impact the government. I think this is going to be a very close call and it will be preferences that will decide Labor or Liberal,” she said.
Lavin said she could offer the people of Chisholm a new way of thinking, because everything we do impacts animals.
“In a recent forum, I mentioned that even with superannuation, most of their systems benefit from things like live export or animal agriculture. There are ethical superannuation schemes that won’t make money on the suffering of animals.”
Lavin further suggests that the AJP will prioritise urgent action to address climate change through phasing out fossil fuels and sheep and cattle farming.
“If we looked at animal agriculture and slowed down our breeding of animals and deforestation, we could cut our carbon emissions faster than looking at coal and renewable energy.”
This, she believes, will reduce methane emissions and allow for reforestation.
“We need to look at both issues, animal agriculture and renewable energy, and in that way reduce our carbon footprint. These are things that I can make people aware of because no one’s discussing it,” she said.
Nevertheless, while the AJP would love for everyone to become vegan, Lavin knows this is not realistic.
“Everyone wants to lead a healthy life. If we can look closely at our diet and how we can fix our health and the health of the planet, we would be looking at a far different future than what we are right now.”
Lavin said the AJP would preference the parties that are willing to do something for animals. “The parties most focused on that (animal rights) are usually the Greens and Labor, a couple of minors, Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party and the Health Australia Party.”
However, Lavin is critical of the Liberals for failing to acknowledge the existence of climate change and animal agriculture.
“(The) Liberals are not doing anything about live export. In fact, they want to increase it, and they’re not doing much for climate change either. I’m looking at climate change, and I think the young people of today are going to do that too,” she said.
Lavin said the sitting member for Chisholm Julia Banks’ decision to leave the Liberal party to become an independent candidate was further evidence of the Liberal Party’s division.
“I take from Julia Banks’ decision a lesson that our party needs to ensure that we are listening to our voters, our volunteers and our members at all times,” Lavin said.
Lavin is available on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.