LAST UPDATED: 6 July 2016
Never before have live export victims had such a powerful voice in the lead up to a Federal election. And our historic TV ad was just one part of a multifaceted campaign that saw tens of thousands of people unite to put animals firmly on the election agenda.
When we asked for help to fund an emergency broadcast to give the victims of live export an unprecedented voice on prime-time TV, thousands of compassionate people delivered — and then some.
The response was overwhelming, with the ad fully funded in a record-breaking 48 hours. It was then strategically placed in the very TV programs we knew politicians would be watching AND, in a first, the powerful ad was beamed directly into Barnaby Joyce's own electorate.
When a handful of dedicated volunteers signed up to collect ban live export signatures from caring locals on the streets in Adelaide and Melbourne, they sparked a chain reaction. And, in just a few short days, something amazing happened…
This grassroots action in the key seats of Hindmarsh and Higgins grew. More people volunteered, and ended up with petitions thousands of signatures strong! These weighty stacks were presented in person to their local candidates — urging them to listen to their constituents, and take action to protect animals from live export cruelty.
To power the efforts of our awesome volunteers, we sent these 'mobile billboards' zooming around the key seats of Higgins and Hindmarsh, helping keep animals in sight — and front of mind — in the critical final weeks of the election campaign.
Live export cruelty exposed on national TV
When the results of our most dangerous live export operation yet were exposed on ABC's 7.30 program — they sent shockwaves around the country. Our damning evidence of the horrific sledgehammering to death of Australian cattle in Vietnam not only dominated Australian news channels, but made media headlines in 34 countries.
This massive public backlash against live export cruelty grew even further when, less than a week later, a second story broke on national TV revealing the shocking conditions on Australian live export ships.
Never before had the suffering of animals at every stage of the live export journey been laid bare for all the world (and politicians) to see.
Aussies speak up for the animals
We took to the streets in some of the most marginal electorates in the country to find out what the locals really think about live export. And some had a strong message for the local candidates vying for their vote on election day!
If you happened to glance inside The Australian on June 25th, it would have been impossible to miss the full-page open letter we penned — along with Australia's leading animal protection groups — to Prime Minister Turnbull and Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten. This historic statement called for an independent Inquiry into the live export trade — and its administration by the Department of Agriculture.
Since then, tens of thousands of caring Aussies have backed our calls by demanding the newly elected government establish an Independent Office of Animal Welfare, free from the corrupting influence of live export companies — add your voice here!
From a candlelight vigil in Canberra — to a massive parkside rally in Brisbane — to an impromptu protest at a Viennese university, caring people from one side of the world to the other gathered, rallied and marched to demand an end to live export. (Check out more rally action shots here — and don't forget to tag yourself if you're in the crowd!)
In the weeks leading up to the election, thousands of people viewed, downloaded, printed and shared our guide to where parties stand when it comes to animals, ensuring they could make an informed decision at the ballot box. With more parties than ever presenting animal welfare policies and voicing opposition to live export, it's clear that politicians are getting the message that animal protection is a powerful voting issue.
Animals have been centre-stage of this election campaign more than any other. In key electorates we've seen more and more candidates prepared to speak out against live export — knowing they have the full backing of their constituency (that's you!). In fact, ending live export was identified as one of the top issues that people want political parties to commit to.
While we continue to work towards an end to live export, there are positive signs we are making progress in forcing the major parties to take their responsibility to animals seriously. Just weeks into the campaign the Coalition agreed to join Labor and the Greens in committing to an Australia-wide ban on the sale of products tested on animals overseas, saying it is "unethical, unnecessary" and "of highly questionable value". Sounds like another industry, doesn't it...
A vote for kindness
The tireless efforts of tens of thousands of caring Aussies helped keep animals front of mind this election season. Thank you!
While the ballot booths may now be closed, the good news is you don't have to wait until the next election to make your vote count for animals (and you don't have to wait for politicians to take action either)! It couldn't be easier to vote #1 for the animals — and a kinder world. Find out how here :)