OPINION: EVER since ‘Screaming Lord Sutch’ stood as a candidate against Margaret Thatcher in the 1983 UK general election, the Official Monster Raving Loony Party (OMRLP) has become a satirical political fixture in British elections.
In light of its lampooning heritage, one recent OMRLP policy was that the speaker in the House of Commons will be replaced by the latest audio equipment.
Given the policy platforms of some of the minor parties at the recent federal election, some would question whether satellite branches of the OMRLP have infiltrated the Australian political landscape.
For the most part, these single-issue parties usually struggle to attract attention, as their policy platforms are often too narrow to justify votes.
Further, these groups fail to resonate with the vast majority of people because their underlying policies are too radical for mainstream voters.
A radical agenda mixed with liberal lashings of irrational ideals neatly sums up the Animal Justice Party platform. A cursory review of the Animal Justice Party policies reveals that, among other things, it advocates that: animals must only be transported if absolutely necessary and for no longer than eight hours on any journey animals are to be killed as close as possible to point of origin and not be ‘put through the rigours of saleyards’ opposing the intensive housing of animals.
These policies clearly failed to find traction with the voting public, as a review of the Animal Justice Party’s results in the Senate campaign in the recent federal election reveals that it only secured 0.64 per cent of the primary vote.
This was below other notable political forces such as the Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party and the Australian Sex Party.
Similarly, the main exponents of the campaign waged against banning live exports in the House of Representatives during the last term were: Andrew Wilkie (independent, Denison); Melissa Parks (ALP, Fremantle); Kelvin Thomson (ALP, Wills); Janelle Saffin (ALP, Page); Darren Cheeseman (ALP, Corangamite) and Adam Bandt (Green, Melbourne).
Save for Andrew Wilkie, each of these MPs suffered swings against them, and in the case of Saffin and Cheeseman, they lost their seats.
It would be churlish to suggest that their stance on live export was the sole reason for their poor performance, but it also shows that live export was not an issue that drew swinging voters to their ledger.
Like Narcissus kneeling beside the pond impressed with his visage, animal rights activists spend an inordinate amount of time preaching to their acolytes, little knowing that the only people they are really communicating their distorted message to are the people within the very echo chamber they inhabit.
Maybe the conversation these groups need to be having is whether, in reality, their views are shared by the majority of Australians, as they so frequently advocate.
In this regard, Animals Australia compiled an election scorecard that indicated where all the parties stood on the establishment of the Independent Office of Animal Welfare and supporting an end to live export.
Unsurprisingly, the only parties that supported both of these policies were the Greens and the Animal Justice Party. Most parties had no policy at all on these issues, which is a clear indicator that for the majority of Australians, these matters are not even on their radar.
The Office of Animal Welfare, for example, is clearly a solution in search of a problem. If constituted, the OAW would have been a typical quango.
Its main purpose would not be animal welfare, but to habitually justify its contrived existence by adding layers of red tape to the operation of livestock industries.
The Australian public has a sixth sense for ‘bovine scatology’. If these sorts of policies are to become accepted by the general public, the groups advocating their adoption need to dial back the rhetoric, as rabid fear-mongering rarely wins the day.
Recent comments from Barnaby Joyce reveal that a reinvigoration of the live cattle trade with Indonesia is of critical importance.
A continued campaign on these non-issues in light of the election results would be the very definition of a "brave and courageous decision", in the words of Sir Humphrey Appleby.
If the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, agricultural industries can expect more ‘raving loony’ pronouncements - minus the satire – from these groups in the future.
Trent Thorne is a Brisbane-based agribusiness lawyer.