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It isn’t clear how the new bill against animal rights activists will protect Australia’s farmers

It isn’t clear how this bill will 'protect the well-being of farmers'. Rather, its target is behavior that would 'cause detriment to a primary production of business' (i.e., meat industry).

BETH DALEY: ‘The Morrison government has introduced new legislation responding to recent protests by animal rights activists in Australia. The bill –named The Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019 – will tighten up existing laws, creating harsher penalties for those who incite others to trespass on farms… The legislation may not affect the sanctions animal activists already face for protests like the recent unauthorised sit-in in Melbourne CBD. Instead, it would mean activists may have to be more careful about distributing evidence of animal cruelty online to encourage people to take action against the meat industry… The government claims this bill will protect farmers’ privacy and security, and avoid risks of biosecurity hazards posed by unauthorised entries of activists.

But if this were really the goal, we would not need a new bill. The use of “a carriage service to menace, harass, or cause offence” is already punishable under section 474.17 of the Criminal Code. In fact, the legislation doesn’t even mention farmers’ personal safety. Rather, its target is behaviour that “would cause detriment to a primary production business”… So it isn’t clear how this bill will “protect” the well-being of farmers. What is clear, however, is that this bill is part of a growing trend of creating heavy-handed “special offences” punishing protesters that go beyond merely symbolic actions. Meanwhile, the government claims to respect the freedom of assembly and right to protest…

Rather than engaging with activists’ demand for more transparency in the meat industry, the government has now made it a crime for them to “demand” more transparency, when the latter might be detrimental to the business. What’s more, farmers aren’t the only ones facing personal threats. Activists who have taken action to denounce the unethical practices allegedly employed in Australian abattoirs have also been subject to serious threats because of their choice to criticise the meat industry. But the government seems less concerned with the privacy and safety of citizens when their conduct may cause “detriment” to the interests of business’. SOURCE…


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