Joyce, NSW Gov plan to challenge animal charities revealed

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Thursday, 8 December 2016, 2:58 pm

Voiceless, the animal protection institute, is stunned that once again animal welfare has been pushed aside by those in a position to enact real and meaningful change, who instead continue to focus on silencing advocates and stifling transparency.

It was revealed today that federal and NSW governments hosted a series of joint roundtable meetings to find ways to destabilise and discredit animal advocacy groups, rather than discussing animal welfare. 

Documents obtained under NSW access to information laws by state Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi and published today by The Guardian, detailed an August 2015 meeting that included Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, the NSW primary industries minister Niall Blair and animal industry groups including NSW Farmers, where a number of options were discussed for targeting animal rights activists who expose animal abuse through undercover footage. 

Among the range of strategies considered, such as making it easier to prosecute animal advocates by altering how evidence can be gathered (such as the ag-gag style Surveillance Devices Act recently passed in South Australia), the roundtable even proposed an option of stripping some animal groups of their charitable status.

This is clearly an attempt to try and gag the whistleblowers, rather than address the heart of the issue: animal abuse across Australian industries. 

In recent years, it is animal activists who have:

  • Exposed widespread live baiting in the greyhound industry, leading to government reform in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.
  • Revealed extreme abuse of animals at Echuca’s Riverside Meats Abattoir, resulting in the abattoir being sanctioned and an investigation commenced by Victoria’s Chief Vet.
  • Repeatedly uncovered systemic breaches in Australia’s live export industry.

It has too often fallen to whistleblowers, individuals and animal organisations to expose systemic cruelty, cruelty which has not been picked up by the relevant authorities – those same authorities who are ostensibly responsible for ensuring good animal welfare on Australian farms. 

Yet perhaps the most astonishing fact revealed by these documents is that at a meeting between federal and state agriculture ministers, it was not animal welfare that was discussed, but how to stop animal activists.

Instead of wasting time and our tax dollars trying to silence the messenger, those responsible for animal welfare in Australia need to refocus on the heart of the issue – fixing systemic animal abuse.

Read more about Voiceless’s position on ag-gag laws here.

Read the full media release.

For more information or to organise an interview, please contact:

Elise Burgess
Head of Communications and Voiceless spokesperson
elise@voiceless.org.au
Tel: +61 2 9357 0703

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