Prison time for ‘loopy’ an­i­mal ac­tivists

Dubbo Photo News - - News - By LY­DIA PEDRANA

LO­CAL farm­ers who have been tar­geted by ‘loopy’ and ‘out-ofline’ an­i­mal ac­tivists can breathe a sigh of re­lief with mil­i­tants now fac­ing jail time.

Cam­paign­ers who use so­cial me­dia and web­sites to en­cour­age oth­ers to in­vade and tres­pass on farms now face up to five years in prison un­der a new law in­tro­duced to fed­eral par­lia­ment fol­low­ing a Se­nate in­quiry into the im­pact of an­i­mal rights ac­tivism.

Mem­ber for Parkes Mark Coul­ton con­firmed he is aware of sev­eral farm­ers within the re­gion be­ing tar­geted by an­i­mal ac­tivists.

“I have heard from a num­ber of A group of Dubbo school stu­dents got a lot more than they bar­gained for when they ran into ac­tor-en­ter­tainer Hugh Jackman while on an ex­cur­sion to the na­tion’s cap­i­tal last week.

Dubbo Chris­tian School Stage 3 teach­ers Courtney Troy and Matthew Har­ris ad­mit they were just as ex­cited as the stu­dents to meet the star of Hol­ly­wood block­busters in­clud­ing Wolver­ine and The Great­est Show­man.

“Year 5 were so ex­cited when we walked into the Na­tional Gallery and saw Hugh Jackman and his lovely wife De­borra-lee Fur­ness view­ing the art­works,” Miss Troy said.

“We spent our en­tire tour of the gallery bump­ing into Mr Jackman and his wife who waved at the kids, gave them high-fives and shook their hands.

“One group of stu­dents were lucky enough to get a selfie with Mr Jackman af­ter hear­ing we were from drought-stricken Dubbo,” she said, adding that the Dubbo stu­dents were “blown away” with how kind he was to them.

Mr Har­ris agreed. “He was an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple to the stu­dents on how to be gra­cious and kind to oth­ers, a les­son that is so im­por­tant for stu­dents at that stage of life, and one we pro­mote con­sis­tently at school,” he said.

“De­spite how easy it would have been for him to avoid us, he went above and be­yond. It is still the talk of the school!” Mr Har­ris said. farm­ers and con­stituents in my elec­torate who are deeply con­cerned about on-farm in­tim­i­da­tion and at­tacks by out-of-line ac­tivists, in­clud­ing some farm­ers who have been af­fected by farm tres­pass first­hand,” Mr Coul­ton told Dubbo Photo News.

He also said he was aware of farm­ing busi­nesses within his elec­torate be­ing listed on the con­tro­ver­sial Aussie Farms web­site.

The site, which has been live since Jan­uary, pub­licly lists ad­dresses and de­scrip­tions of Aus­tralian farms which it la­bels as a “com­pre­hen­sive, in­ter­ac­tive map of factory farms, slaugh­ter­houses and other an­i­mal ex­ploita­tion fa­cil­i­ties”.

“These are le­git­i­mate, pro­duc­tive farm­ing busi­nesses which are an in­te­gral part of our lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and the wider econ­omy,” Mr Coul­ton said.

“No one would like the ad­dress of their fam­ily home put up on­line for all to see, and nor should farm­ers have to con­tend with pri­vate de­tails in­clud­ing their ad­dress be­ing made pub­licly avail­able.”

Fed­eral Mem­ber for Calare An­drew Gee also con­firmed that pri­mary pro­duc­ers in his elec­torate have been “un­fairly tar­geted” on the Aussie Farms web­site with bee­keep­ers, sa­le­yards and pet shops listed on the site.

“Farm­ers have enough to worry about with this dev­as­tat­ing drought,” Mr Gee said.

“They shouldn’t have to lie awake at night wor­ry­ing about whether they are go­ing to be tar­geted by mil­i­tant and loopy ac­tivists – most of whom are from the city and have no idea about the way farms or coun­try com­mu­ni­ties op­er­ate.”

Re­spond­ing to the pass­ing of the bill last week, Aussie Farms slammed the new leg­is­la­tion la­belling it as “dra­co­nian” and re­fer­ring to it as the “new ag-gag law”.

Ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Aussie Farms, Chris Delforce, ar­gued the pub­lic’s right to trans­parency.

“Con­sumers have a right to know about the cru­elty oc­cur­ring daily as stan­dard prac­tice within Aus­tralian an­i­mal agri­cul­ture; no busi­ness has a right to abuse an­i­mals in se­crecy, and un­til the govern­ment man­dates trans­parency in an­i­mal agri­cul­ture or crim­i­nalises an­i­mal cru­elty to­wards ‘live­stock’ an­i­mals in the same way that it’s crim­i­nalised to­wards com­pan­ion an­i­mals, this role will un­for­tu­nately con­tinue to fall on whis­tle-blow­ers,” Mr Delforce said.

Mark Coul­ton (left) and An­drew Gee (right)

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