The Sentient executive attended the above-named webinar organised by WSPA. The presenter was Damien O’Connor, an expert in government relations and economic analysis who does pro bono work for WSPA and is opposed to the live export trade.
This webinar was most useful in terms of reinforcing the value of ongoing political lobbying, suggesting strategies and sustaining morale. Damien emphasised that change only happens when there is a critical mass of MPs onboard. This highlights the need for us to lobby collectively, via Sentient, but also individually by approaching our local MPs or their representatives.
Effective techniques are arranging a meeting, using social media, writing letters or attending local events or debates. The most persuasive arguments are that Australians are appalled by the cruelty they have seen on live export footage, and that the trade is unsustainable, and so poses a risk to both farmers and animals. We can highlight the research on this issue produced by WSPA and other organisations such as VALE, which is available on their websites and has already been shared with all MPs. Another strategy is to lobby the Greens to place live export high on their preference list, as this can be influential in their preference negotiations with the major candidates.
Given there may now be an earlier election date, the sooner we contact MPs the more impact we will have, particularly in marginal seats. Damien reassured the audience that there will always be allies in parliament, and that not everything is within the government’s control (such as economic forces or decisions by other countries regarding the trade), so we must work with this momentum.