Law-abiding farmers and hunters have seen their fair share of extreme activist behaviour this year, and finally, these groups are now in the parliament’s sights.
As these extremists continue to show disregard for the law, government parties are working together to create laws that will act as a huge deterrent for these extreme behaviours.
The Age reported the Andrews government is supporting the Liberal and Nationals parties’ push for a state parliamentary committee to consider the effectiveness of current laws in deterring activists.
Victorian Nationals leader Peter Walsh said people who break into farms and steal livestock are blind to the harm they cause to law-abiding farmers’ livelihoods.
“Our farmers are the backbone of the Victorian economy, but their critical work producing our state’s food and fibre is being
relentlessly attacked by law-breaking activists who don’t care about the damage they’re inflicting on ethical, responsible farmers who comply with high environmental and social standards,” Mr Walsh said.
A petition to reform farm trespass laws has gathered nearly 5000 signatures so far and the Nationals are pushing for stronger penalties to punish activists who break into farms.
Gippsland’s Gippy Goat Cafe closed its doors last month, citing what it called a concerted campaign by animal activists against the business.
One of the vegan activists who led the campaign later went public with the vile rape and death threats she suffered, amid a public and media backlash against increasing vegan activism across Victoria.
The inquiry will also report to Parliament on how Victoria’s laws could be changed to protect farmers’ business interests, and the integrity of Victoria’s biosecurity regime. Premier Daniel Andrews said biosecurity “needs to come first”.
“Having people with absolutely no regard or understanding of these matters trespassing on farms is a very significant biosecurity risk,” he said.
“I think it is a serious issue and there’s no need to be having a political argument about it. If we can work together then that’s always a good thing.”
Victorian Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick said the move would “silence brave whistleblowers”, who drew attention to
animal cruelty in the agricultural sector.
“Many people have heard of battery cages, sow stalls and the atrocities of the live animal export industry,” he said.
But cruelty campaigners and supporters say the public would never learn about what happens on farms and in abattoirsif it weren’t for the aggressive tactics of a handful of “brave whistleblowers”.
Fingers are crossed that the news laws will also help duck hunters enjoy their legal recreation without disturbance in 2020.