The new MP for the Animal Justice Party (AJP), Emma Hurst made her inaugural speech to the NSW Parliament on 29th May. Many supporters were inspired congratulating her powerful heartfelt eloquently crafted speech which visibly moved many to tears. She received a standing ovation on the floor of the parliament.
One of three parliamentary AJP MPs in Australia, she sees her election as representing the voiceless animals. She is a passionate advocate for a future based on kindness and compassion. The AJP is firmly part of a greater movement of change to see the cruelty of animals end.
She addressed the current crisis of animals being locked in cages, and subject to painful and cruel procedures – “their needs for survival so often ignored if there is money to be made”.
Acknowledging the enormity of the task she described the cause of animal justice as the “greatest of our generation”.
Radiating confidence she asserted that “we have shown that when we stand together with the animals, we win.”
Recounting her feelings as a child, somehow she felt different. She did not see “some rodent, pest or a dirty mouse”. Instead, she saw something else: a “small frightened animal whose heart beats against her chest…Her life was as precious to her as yours is to you.” Labels were “irrelevant to her ability to feel pain, feel fear and to suffer.”
Voters care as much about that little mouse as she did, she insisted.
She recalled an incident as a child when she hugged a hen and noticed that it was purring. She “showed joy” just as her pet cat did. “If I can’t eat my cat, then I can’t eat this hen,” she thought.
Many years later, she was given a street flyer about the dairy industry. It informed her the egg industry macerates all male chicks and that all male calves in the dairy industry are sent to slaughter. That night the researched this further and recalls the night “with great clarity”. Someone had “turned the lights on” and overnight she went vegan.
The Collective Compassion of a Nation & the horrors of the Live Exports Industry
She referred to 30th May 2011 as the night when the AJP’s fight “changed forever”, a night when the collective compassion of a nation has never been so clear. That evening a documentary was aired on the ABC Four Corners programme that “exposed the horrors of the Australian Live Exports Industry.
Dudley was a steer being sent to Indonesia. He was refusing to go into “the knocking box where he would be killed”. It took five men with ropes around his neck to force him. He was exhausted and in so much pain that he was unable to get up, so the men jumped on his back, and poked him in the eye.
Tommy was another steer. He was taken to the slaughter line, and the viewer can see “Tommy’s eyes wide with fear and body trembling in terror, as he watched utterly helpless” as his fellow steers were being killed.
The MP said that Tommy’s fear “was something I never ever wanted to imagine”.
She described “the veil of secrecy” from the vested interests the AJP have been fighting against.
She stated that we are now at a “defining moment” where people are making changes in their own lives to defend animals.
With people “standing up and demanding better protection laws for Animals” she stressed that cruelty is not a Left or Right issue. She was seeking “a more compassionate parliament”.
She was there for the millions of hens in battery cages, for the female dogs “held in squalid conditions in puppy farms” and for the greyhounds who “face a bullet to the head because they don’t run fast enough to make a profit”.
The MP talked of the “miserable reality” that explains why she was elected.
Somewhere as she spoke there was a “mother cow crying for her newborn baby until her voice goes hoarse and she can no longer bellow” and who would be forcibly impregnated again soon so that she continues to produce milk. She would cry for her little boy “sent to slaughter as he is useless to the dairy industry”. She is beating at the metal bars of her cage, in which she recently gave birth on the cold metal flooring. It is too small for her babies to even be with her.
That cow is “more intelligent than our dogs”, she can even learn to play football. That cow is “capable of love and friendship”. Tonight that cow will be repetitively hitting her cage. “She has gone mad”.
Somewhere too that evening a chicken had just fallen, “her legs too weak to hold her obese body any longer” as they splay out in front of her. She sits in six weeks worth of the faeces of tens of thousands of other chickens. The faeces will “burn through her feathers and then her skin”.
She would “stand to lessen her pain but she cannot”. She has been bred this way and “will be in chronic pain for the last days of her life”.
The fate of these animals “rests on our willingness to choose kindness over greed, to choose respectability over indifference, and to be leaders not led”.
Calling people to come together to end animal cruelty, she urged others to speak their truth:
“If you feel the same urgency as I do, the same passion for change, and if you feel the same hopefulness, then together let’s break down barriers and build bridges in their place,” she said.
“This is the moment. This is the time for change. Let’s transform.
Let’s dare to hope. Let’s dissolve the cages and shackles that have enslaved animals and caused them great harm.
I encourage you today to move past anger and instead join me in building this great movement of change.
There is power in hope.
There is power in who we are.”
She ended her speech with the short speech she had made when elected and received a standing ovation.
One supporter praised her from the “very core of my being” adding:
“You make me proud to be vegan and hopeful that my country of Canada might one day have elected officials such as yourself to carry forth the promise to all sentient beings that we see you, we hear you, we will fight for you!
“Be proud Australia for under the leadership of politicians such as Emma, you are shedding light on governments around the world that nonhuman beings matter and deserve rights just as you or I. You are leading the way for others around the globe to create a world based on peace and where freedom is afforded to all and not just some. Thank you! Thank you for making me feel like change for the better is happening, and happening sooner not later!! You are an inspiration Emma! Thank you.”
The road would be a long one. In her speech, she said that “any industry that profits from the abuse and suffering of animals is terrified of us”.
Maybe so, but nevertheless she will need to be fearless when she confronts the vested interests who want to silence the movement of which she is such as an eloquent representative.