Last week in Parliament I spoke on the Livestock Management Amendment (Animal Activism) Bill – Legislation from a National Party initiated Inquiry to introduce tougher penalties for illegal animal activist farm invaders.
Not surprisingly, the Greens opposed this legislation, but first some background.
In January 2019, Aussie Farms created a website and Facebook page that unfairly targeted farmers across Australia – it included the publication of a map of farm locations and the nature of their farming operations - presented as if they were doing something illegal.
This resource was subsequently used by animal activists to target primary producers and we saw farms invaded without consent or pre-warning. Animals were stolen, farmers and their wives and children called murderers and killers and graffiti was painted - disgraceful behaviour.
It was later revealed than one of these activists, who was identified and charged, received a $1 fine for breaking biosecurity laws and stealing livestock.
Given this and the aggressive nature of the invasions, a parliamentary inquiry was set up to look into the impact of animal activism on Victorian agriculture. My Nationals Upper House colleague was at the forefront of this with unanimous support from our party room.
Jumping forward, the legislation we saw in Parliament this week to increase punishments for these illegal farm invaders, including increased mandatory fines for biosecurity breaches and trespassing, was a result of this inquiry.
It contained what I feel were very reasonable protections for our law-abiding farmers from the aggressive property invasions we have seen.
Well, not according to the Greens. Here are some excerpts from the speech made by Greens Member for Melbourne, Ellen Sandell:
It is a bill that is supposedly about biosecurity, but when you actually look at the detail, really using that term biosecurity is just a smokescreen for new laws to crack down on animal activists who are trying to put a spotlight on the horrible way that we often do treat the animals that we kill and eat.
This new law means that the public will not know if a biosecurity sign has been put up outside a farm because there is a very real and important biosecurity risk for entering that property…or whether the sign has just been put up so that animal activists can be punished for entering that property.
It is like if every single beach in the country had a warning sign about crocodiles, you would not know which ones actually had crocodiles and which ones did not have crocodiles, and you would not know which ones were actually the very, very dangerous beaches and which ones were not the very dangerous beaches. I think it is a similar concept.
I am proud to support activists in the face of governments bragging about introducing some of the heaviest fines in the country.
Really? Stopping abusive activists from invading peoples’ home properties, is the same as warning people they are going to be swimming with crocodiles?
These changes are welcome and I hope will stop these activists being a law unto themselves – waltzing onto farms and causing significant trauma and distress to their owners.
In my speech, I called out the hypocrisy of the Animal Justice Party MP, Andy Meddick, who I have no doubt will oppose the Bill in the Upper House in a few weeks.
In the media, Mr Meddick has defended these farm invaders as whistle blowers. His commentary reflected that the invasions we saw were for worthy cause.
However, fast forward to late last year when Mr Mednick’s own home was targeted by activists over his support of the Pandemic State of Emergency extension. He said:
“People disagree in a vibrant democracy. But you don’t have the right to come to someone’s house and make their family feel physically in danger.”
I agree with this comment of Mr Meddick. People don’t have the right to come to someone’s home and make them feel in danger. We are in unison on that.
But my point is Mr Meddick cannot run with the foxes and hunt with the hounds. The farms that are being targeted as also the farmers’ homes and these activists had these farming families feeling in danger – the same feeling Mr Meddick experienced.
Invading a home seemed to be OK when it was a cause he supported, but not when it impacted him and his family.
I look forward to the Bill passing the Upper House in the coming weeks and becoming law.
Monday, February 14, 2021