On March 28, 2015, the Honourable Mark Pearson of the Animal Justice Party was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council, heralding a new era for animal rights in Australia and beyond.
On a budget of just $12,000, the party claimed the final seat in the race for the Upper House, making Mark Pearson the first Animal Justice Party Member of Parliament, and the second person in the world to be elected to Parliament on the platform of animal rights.
Pearson gave his inaugural speech to Parliament on May 6, 2015. A video of the speech was recently posted to the Animal Justice Party’s YouTube channel, and is available for public viewing here.
“It is indeed a privilege and an honour to be the first member of Parliament elected by the people of New South Wales on the platform of animal protection, animal wellbeing and animal welfare,” Pearson said, introducing a half-hour speech in which he discussed the history of animals in politics, ag-gag laws, and the growth of the animal rights movement.
“It is not a matter as to whether an animal can think or reason, is is a matter of whether an animal can suffer,” Pearson said, echoing the words of philosopher Jeremy Bentham.
“The animals with which we share the land, air and water of this country are deeply interwoven with our sense of ethics and culture. In fact, we are indebted to them,” he said.
Pearson spoke to a respectfully silenced room, rousing a moved “Shame!” at the mention of the deaths of 130,000 horses sent to the First World War.
Nearing the end of his speech, Pearson noted the need for people to advocate for “those who cannot advocate for themselves”.
“We need to advocate more for animals,” he said. “That is why the people of New South Wales have elected me to this Parliament and it is my hope that many others will be elected to other national and international Parliaments.”
Prior to being elected to the Legislative Council, Pearson was Executive Director or President of Animal Liberation in Australia for 22 years, where he primarily fought against factory farming, mulesing and live export, according to his MLC profile. Other issues were the commercial slaughter of kangaroos and the wellbeing of introduced wildlife.
Pearson has also been a Team Leader of the Newcastle Community Mental Health Service in Newcastle. He also worked as a Clinical Acute Adult Psychiatric Nurse Specialist for 23 years.
His inaugural speech can also be read as PDF document here.