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Byron Shire
November 30, 2022

AJP’s lead candidate is Alison Waters from Lismore

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Last week Lismore resident Alison Waters was announced as the lead candidate for the Animal Justice Party (AJP) in the Upper House at the 2023 NSW Election. Photo Tree Faerie.

As the environmental, financial and social climate threatens to crumble in many areas of the state, the race for first place at the New South Wales 2023 election has begun and a local woman is throwing her energy and hat into the ring.

Lismore resident Alison Waters was last week announced as the lead candidate for the Animal Justice Party (AJP) in the Upper House.

Waters is a social worker who has been employed in the community sector for over 20 years, including several leadership roles. Waters has spent most of her career as an advocate for women, children and animals who experience domestic and family violence.

‘I have been a member of the Animal Justice Party for six years, as I believe that political action leading to legislative change will improve the lives of countless animals.’

The extensive achievements of Pearson and Hurst

Waters knows she has big shoes to fill, but she is confident she can continue the successes of the AJP. Photo Tree Faerie.

Waters says this has been proven by the extensive achievements of the honourable members Mark Pearson and Emma Hurst in the NSW Parliament. ‘I commend the unwavering dedication of our MPs, whose work inspires me and provides a vision of what the AJP can continue to accomplish.’

A common question asked of Parliamentary candidates in the AJP is: what are your other platforms? It’s just not all about animals.

Waters says the AJP has a platform of ‘animals – people – planet’, ‘Obviously, we’re a party that has “animal” and “justice” in our name. That extends to social justice for people because we know that the lives of animals, people and the environment are all connected. We’re interconnected. And it’s important that we also think about the interests of animals when we make decisions.

Koalas on track to be extinct by 2050

‘So for example, in New South Wales, we know that koalas are on track to be extinct by 2050, possibly well before that. That would be an absolute tragedy – the world would never forgive us for something like that – and I just feel really strongly that we have to protect the animals that we share this planet with, particularly at this time in it.’

Waters says the AJP has position statements on human issues, including asylum seekers, First Nations peoples, gambling, gender equality, homelessness and age of criminal responsibility.

‘In relation to the interconnectedness of issues that affect people and animals – I am a renter. I know how difficult it is to find affordable housing, particularly when you have an animal in your care. We have seen an increase in the number of animals surrendered to rescue groups because tenants are unable to find housing that will permit animals.

Alison Waters and rescue pooch ‘Lemon’. She says no one should be compelled to leave a family member behind in order to secure housing. Photo Tree Faerie.

‘No one should be compelled to leave a family member behind in order to secure housing. AJP MP Emma Hurst is advocating for a change in legislation to make it easier for tenants to rent with animals. The government has initiated a review that the public can contribute to.

Waters says we often underestimate the significance of the human-animal bond in our society.

‘For many people, an animal is a treasured family member. We saw how people in Lismore did everything they could to rescue their animal family members during the floods. It would be unthinkable to leave them behind.

A reason to get out of bed

‘For some people, the animal in their life is the reason that they get out of bed in the morning. And for people who have been let down or hurt by other people, the animal in their life gives them much-needed unconditional love and companionship.’

Waters says another issue is that often the case that the economy and the environment are pitched against each other. ‘We are told that the cost of taking action on climate is too high – in job and in industries – but I argue that the cost of not taking action, is greater.

‘It is estimated that it will cost $1 billion to rebuild Lismore after the floods, and we have seen further severe flooding across the state since then. But it is more than economic – how can we quantify the true cost of loss of human and animal life, the loss of housing security and the loss of places and landscapes?’

The big question

Alison Waters says the floods that have left Lismore in tatters have given her the fire to do all she can to help the community. Photo Tree Faerie.

Waters says that in 2021, when she ran for local government, she was asked the question, ‘what do you think is the most important issue in this more for people living in Lismore?’

‘I said climate change. I said that because I knew that we were a flood town. We’d experienced those extreme bushfires and that every system and structure of our society would be impacted by climate change in the future.’ I did not know that three months later, that would be our reality in this town.

‘I was safe and my children were safe but friends and colleagues and neighbors and family members have all suffered so much and experienced so much grief and loss. We’ve now seen that happen to other communities around the state and the country.

‘I felt then that climate change was in the future, but we know it’s very much here and impacting us now.

‘I feel that as someone who has experienced their town, essentially, in tatters. I feel it is important for me to come forward and do something about that in some way. I’ve always been politically engaged, this has given me the extra fire to do this.’


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2 COMMENTS

  1. Great to see a local candidate running for the AJP in the upper house. It’s imperative that AJP retains their 2 seats so that the likes of the Shooters and Fishers Party don’t hold the balance of power. More than ever we need a voice for native animals as well as welfare improvements for farmed animals. We need more compassion in politics. It would be amazing to have someone Like Alison elected.

  2. Alison will be a strong voice for justice – for people and other animals. Her extensive experience in social work and her deep understanding of environmental issues will be an important counter to the special interests and venal posturing of so many politicians. We need Alison in the NSW Parliament!

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