The Bartlett Diaries
February 25, 2007
I was in Sydney on Thursday attending a few events of the animal rights group Voiceless. They had a ceremony to give out grants to a range of projects by a wide range of animal organisations, with movie star Hugo Weaving – an ambassador for Voiceless – there for the presentations. Another upcoming Australian acting talent, Abbie Cornish, was also there to hand out awards to some of the schools who have set up Animal Clubs. I wouldn’t have minded talking with them, but I feel like such a groupie approaching actors and musos, so I left them in peace.
One of the good things about Voiceless is that they rise above some of the bickering than can occur within the animal rights movement (which of course occurs in most social movements and communities), and provide recognition to people across the spectrum purely on the basis that they are making a positive difference. It was good to see two grants being awarded to the Vegetarian/Vegan Society of Queensland – an organisation I’m a patron of.
One of their projects which received some funding is the human sized battery cage, which as the name suggests is a human sized replica which enables people to get bit of a better idea of what it is like for a chicken to be crammed in one of there, usually with 2 or 3 other birds – although they have to spend their whole lives in the cage, not just 20 minutes so. They had a demonstration of the cages for the media that day down near Circular Quay, so I went along to have a look and unexpectedly found myself spending five minutes squished into small cage with Lindsay McDougall (from JJJ and Frenzal Rhomb) and Imogen Bailey. I’d met Lindsay before a few times as part of the Rock Against Howard stuff he organised before the last election, but I hadn’t met Imogen before – it was a strange place to be introduced to someone. (There is a fundraising auction on EBay at the moment where you can bid to spend 30 minutes in the cage with these two this coming Satruday at Bondi beach – current bid at time of writing is $510)
Later the same day I also went to the opening of an art exhibition around the theme of “I feel therefore I am”, which is at the Sherman galleries in Sydney, which was packed full for the occasion. Hugo Weaving read out a statement by the Nobel Prize winning writer JM Coetzee, who is a patron of Voicless. An edited version of his statement was published in the Sydney Morning Herald (receiving some coverage in his native South Africa). Labor’s shadow Minister for the environment and arts, Peter Garrett, gave a short speech to formally open the exhibition later in the evening. I thought his speech was good, although I got the feeling that, despite his clear credentials as an environmentalist (and in the arts), he hasn’t necessarily engaged a lot with some of the animal rights arguments – something I’ve found to be quite common amongst the environment movement. Another blogger, and longtime Green Party stalwart, Ben Oquist was also there, and I had a brief chat with him about West Papua issues, which he spends a lot of time working on these days, and the current Parliamentary Inquiry into the Australian-Indonesia security Treaty, which I wrote about here. […]