Coast election candidate’s theme park arrest

 

AN activist once arrested for protesting the treatment of animals in theme parks will seek election at the Gold Coast City Council poll.

Division 12 hopeful Renee Stewart is part of a group of Animal Justice Party candidates running in local body elections throughout Queensland.

The AJP's other Coast candidate is Rowan Panozzo, who will run for Division 10 in Surfers Paradise, Main Beach and Broadbeach.

Division 12 takes in Miami, Burleigh Heads and Mermaid Beach.

Protesters at Sea World in the pool when the dolphin show was about to start.
Protesters at Sea World in the pool when the dolphin show was about to start.

Ms Stewart was part of a 2018 "Justice for Captives" protest group which climbed on to the roof of Dreamworld's entrance. It also targeted Sea World and Outback Spectacular.

A video of the Sea World protest - which interrupted a dolphin show - appears to show her being removed from the park's dolphin pool by police and park staff.

She told media at the time she was choked by a "drunken spectator" during the Outback Spectacular show.

"This was only hours after a police officer brutally plunged my head and held it under water in the dolphin pool at Sea World," she told journalists.

"We were peacefully standing together and at that point I was leaving the pool, and I feel using that level of force was totally unnecessary."

OUTBACK SPECTACULAR ACTIVIST 'VERY PLEASED'

She and four other members of Justice for Captives were arrested for public nuisance.

In a statement to the Bulletin for this story, the Animal Justice Party said: "Renee will be a wonderful addition to the GCCC, bringing a much-needed perspective on how government policies impact animals and nature."

About the 2018 protest, it added: "The protest mentioned was reported globally, introducing thousands of new readers and viewers to the important issue of ethics and animal exploitation. Most importantly, the demonstration was nonviolent, which is a core value of the Animal Justice Party," the statement reads.

The statement goes on to say the party is against illegal activity.

"Renee Stewart is well respected in the local community and is known as a compassionate and dedicated voice for animals and nature. She has repeatedly proven herself as a professional and competent advocate for animals and we are proud to have her represent the party.

 

Renee Stewart with a group of Justice for Captives activists, after they were arrested and charged with public nuisance while protesting animals at Gold Coast theme parks. Photo: Facebook
Renee Stewart with a group of Justice for Captives activists, after they were arrested and charged with public nuisance while protesting animals at Gold Coast theme parks. Photo: Facebook

Ms Stewart's bid for local council comes just a year after she unsuccessfully campaigned for the McPherson seat in the 2019 federal election.

"My decision to run for council has come from a sense of moral obligation, to defend and protect those who are at our mercy," she said.

 

Animal Justice Party candidates Renee Stewart and Rowan Panozzo are the latest candidates announced for the upcoming election. Photograph: Jason O'Brien
Animal Justice Party candidates Renee Stewart and Rowan Panozzo are the latest candidates announced for the upcoming election. Photograph: Jason O'Brien

"We need to rethink our approach to city design, and primarily we have to start with the declaration of a climate emergency.

"Then we need to develop a comprehensive climate and ecological emergency action plan at local level with bipartisan support.

"This plan should focus on restoration, education, halting biodiversity loss, stopping (carbon) emissions and working towards new solutions."

The March election marks the first time in recent memory the party has run for local council.

Account manager and longtime Broadbeach resident Rowan Panozzo hopes to campaign for more green space and transport options for Coast residents and visitors.

"I've always been searching for a way to create greater social change," he said.

The announcement marks the first time the AJP has run in local Gold Coast elections. Photograph: Jason O'Brien
The announcement marks the first time the AJP has run in local Gold Coast elections. Photograph: Jason O'Brien

"The party's core values align with my beliefs of kindness, rationality and non-violence, that we should have a world of compassion and caring for the environment and the human and non-human animals that surround us.

"The best way to enact social change is through public policy.

"We're going to be soon announcing official policy platforms but the key issues my community and I are passionate about are policy change to provide better protection for our local flora and fauna.

"That's through responsible and sustainable town planning and conservation.

"Another one is land to increase community green spaces, increase cycle-ways, more pedestrian-friendly areas and better transport options."

Animal Justice Party candidate Renee Stewart ran in the federal election for McPherson.
Animal Justice Party candidate Renee Stewart ran in the federal election for McPherson.

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