Lawrence Pope was born in Diamond Valley in 1960 and graduated from La Trobe University and the University of Melbourne. He lives in North Carlton.
Pope has been an animal rights advocate for more than 20 years, and in this election is standing as the Animal Justice Party’s candidate for the state seat of Melbourne.
He started working in mental health and had his first experiences of looking out for the wellbeing of animals after leaving university. Pope has served as an office bearer with Animal Liberation and was president of the Humane Society for Animal Welfare, where he ran high profile campaigns on jumps racing, steel-jawed and glue board traps, flying fox conservation, cat sterilisation and unsafe backyard fruit tree netting.
However, believing animal issues were not being adequately addressed by other animal groups, Pope created the Victorian Advocates for Animals.
“The Victorian Advocates for Animals (VAFA) came out of the Victorian Animal Welfare Association which, years ago, I set up to provide an alternative voice for other species specifically in Melbourne on a range of issues that were hot in the late 1990s and didn’t seem to be addressed by some of the other groups,” Pope said on 3CR in 2016.
“Of course, you have a myriad of issues and a small number of groups and people and everybody does their best to make a difference in a particular area, but there were a couple of pockets that I thought needed special focus.”
Contesting a Victorian state election for the first time, Pope has called for legislation to ban people from handling firearms unless they have a blood alcohol level of zero. While Victorian law states people cannot handle firearms while intoxicated, it does not define what the minimum blood alcohol level is for a person to be considered intoxicated in this case.
Pope has called for a ‘cruelty offenders’ register and the reintroduction of “hard labour” as an option for magistrates to sentence people convicted of serious crimes, including crimes against animals.
He also wants to abolish unsafe fruit tree netting which could entrap animals like sugar gliders, end duck shooting, and to plant more native Australian trees in parks and gardens.
A tight race between the Labor party and the Greens in the seat it is conceivable that it could come down to preferences from the Animal Justice Party to decide the next member for Melbourne.