Strict US-styled Ag-Gag legislation that is cracking down directly on animal rights activists regretfully passed through NSW parliament last week.
WA Liberal Senator, Chris Back, put forward the proposed legislation named the “Criminal Code Amendment (Animal Protection) Bill”, which was open for public comment until mid this year. The passed Biosecurity Act 2015 creates three new broad offences that are applicable only to animal enterprises or related enterprises or individuals:
- Failing to report and submit the visual recording of malicious animal cruelty within certain time limits (s383.5).
- Damaging of property belonging to an animal enterprise or a person connected or related to an animal enterprise (s385.5).
- Causing fear of death or serious bodily injury to a person who is connected or related to an animal enterprise (s385.10).
The offences resulting in substantial bodily injury and varying amounts of economic damage would be punishable by imprisonment from 5 years up until 20 years. The forced surrendering of animal abuse footage within a mere few days to an authority creates impossibly short timeframes for the submission of any observed cruelty so that no pattern of abuse, or widespread abuse, can be documented.
The Biosecurity Act attempts to directly gag animal activists from working to expose the horrendous conditions which farmed animals live in, and the inherent systematic abuse which occurs, by threatening them with large jail terms.
Major Ag-Gag Bill Concerns
The Biosecurity Act 2015 passed after amendments put forward by the ALP, the Greens, and the Animal Justice Party were rejected. The Greens opposing report noted that this ag-gag bill “risks serious abuse of legislative power to secure criminal convictions for political or commercial advantage.”
Long condemned are the inadequacy of current laws that purport to protect the welfare and wellbeing of animals within the animal agriculture industry. There is an evident lack of well-funded independent oversight of animal cruelty protection and the inadequate monitoring and enforcement of existing animal protection laws by the Australian government, which continues to condemn animals to short lifetimes full of pain, fear and suffering.
This suffering is beyond the spotlight of the public gaze and understanding, which is exactly what the animal agriculture industry want. Unsurprisingly, agricultural economics research shows that consumers eat less meat in response to publicised animal cruelty.
This lack of commitment from the Australian government necessitates organisations such as Animals Australia, Animal Liberation, PETA and the many other courageous animal groups, journalists and committed individuals to investigate, bear witness to, and collect evidence of systemic industry-wide and long-term animal cruelty.
These brave activists do so under civil disobedience, which is a form of civil resistance, and ag-gag bills are passed by government to protect the industries and their profits.
Ag-gag laws work to punish those who expose animal cruelty and protect those who commit it.