March 9th 2019

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Commissioner Hayne offers banking stimulus

EDITORIAL Beijing's warning shot hits our soft economic underbelly

CANBERRA OBSERVED Coal ban just one front in Beijing's war on everyone

RURAL AFFAIRS Activist groups harass farmers while claiming tax-exempt status

BANKING ROYAL COMMISSION Dealing with disaster back into the too-hard basket

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Why Hungary and Poland rile the EU

RELIGION AND POLITICS Christians resolve to raise their voices in the public square

GENDER POLITICS Another freedom bites the dust under Daniel Andrews

FAMILY AND SOCIETY The end of 'Liberalism'

CHINA Thank you for your service, soft power; sharp power will take it from here

SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY Fermi's Paradox: Is Big Alien watching you?

MUSIC Perpetual vibe: From medium to media

CINEMA At Eternity's Gate: Impressions of Vincent

BOOK REVIEW Balanced account after the hysteria

BOOK REVIEW Golden Age for workers and its end



SPECIAL EDITORIAL Has Cardinal George Pell been wrongly convicted?

THE CARDINAL PELL CASE: Triumphalism over Pell verdict shows civilisation just a veneer


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Activist groups harass farmers while claiming tax-exempt status

by Chris McCormack

News Weekly, March 9, 2019


  • Online interactive map pinpoints farms for harassment
  • Activist groups characterise raising animals for food as tantamount to murder
  • Activists in contact with many different animals risk $28 billion industry through contamination

The legitimacy of several animal-activist groups’ registered charity status has been called into question after a group called “Aussie Farms” produced a website featuring an interactive map drawing attention to farms, and some activist groups engaged in illegal activities including trespass, theft and endangering Australian biosecurity.

Aussie Farms Inc, a registered charity, published the interactive map of hundreds of properties including livestock farms, fisheries, feedlots, meatworks, processors and dairies, which shows their exact location and provides the farmers’ contact details. However, some farmers had contacted the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and told it they had been identified on the map despite not operating the farm listed.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the map could encourage illegal behaviour and be used as “an attack map for activists”. The director of Aussie Farms, Christopher Delforce, told The Land: “This industry [animal agriculture] may have billions of dollars behind it, but if it can be threatened by ‘information’, that’s exciting to me.”

NFF president Fiona Simson said the Aussie Farms website encouraged trespass and she demanded the group’s charitable status be revoked and for Facebook to remove Aussie Farms’ page. She said the group has been linked to numerous trespass cases including at Nhill, Victoria, where 55 protesters forced their way into an abattoir.

She said the NFF had sought legal advice as to whether privacy and trespass laws had been broken in relation to the map and the photos of farms contained therein and the implied link of animal cruelty to those featured on the map.

In December, about 80 protesters illegally entered the Mount Cotton Golden Cockerel chicken processing site near Brisbane and shut down the factory. Animal Liberation Queensland spokesman Chay Neal said: “In the lead-up to Christmas, we want people to consider the lives that are impacted by what we choose to eat; or rather, who we choose to eat.”

Animal Liberation (QLD) Limited is registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC). Registered charities do not have to pay any tax on the money raised through fundraising, membership or donations to the organisation.

A group of animal activists broke into a piggery on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast last April and staged a sit-in with shirts emblazoned: “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” Activist James Aspey told reporters: “The activists are trying to rescue innocent prisoners who will soon become murder victims. The farmers doing the torturing and killing are the ones who should be arrested.” He added: “This is the darkest thing happening in humanity right now”.

Believing the farming of animals for food is “murder” can be contrasted with the widespread inaction over (and even applause of) the 80,000 surgical abortions performed annually in Australia.

The Aussie Farms website lists the properties of a Victorian farmer at Yarragon who was subject to the criminal actions of animal extremists for the third time after 50 activists stole goats and a lamb from one of his properties. The Aussie Farms website relies on photos and information uploaded by its members, which, according to media reports, are littered with errors.

The ACNC has the power to investigate any registered charity that has been alleged to have been involved in fraud or criminal activity. Why have these “charities” that flagrantly flout the law as part of their raison d’etre so far escaped having their “charity” status revoked?

Illustrating the lunacy of the ideology displayed on the Aussie Farms website is a photo of cow at a dairy farm in Gippsland with the description: “She’s a Dairy Cow. Currently being exploited for her milk here in Australia.” A photo of a single bee says: “Honey bee that was trapped and killed between two hive boxes.”

These activists are not just fighting animal cruelty, they vehemently oppose any food production involving animals and view their slaughter as “murder”. The aim is for universal veganism; and Mr Delforce says the land once used to raise animals “could be used for renewable energy such as solar or wind farms, or returned to Aboriginal ownership and control”. That hundreds of thousands of people’s livelihoods would disappear doesn’t seem to worry Mr Delforce.

Illustrating the ignorance and hypocrisy of the activists is the fact that their actions pose a biosecurity risk, meaning animals could be destroyed en masse if bacteria or disease is passed from protester to animal. Strict protocols on many farms regarding sterile clothing, masks and sterilisation of footwear are necessary to prevent the spread of disease, protocols protesters do not follow.

Contamination is all the more likely as the activists could have been in contact with many types of animals from different regions as part of their activism. These biosecurity breaches could jeopardise the $28 billion Australian livestock industry and, in a worst-case scenario, mean we would need to import all animal products.

The Aussie Farms online map arguably breaches privacy. It does risk farmers’ safety and livelihood. David Vaile from the Allens Hub for Technology Law and Innovation at the University of NSW said in January that, despite five reviews of privacy laws, neither of the major political parties had adopted the recommendations in the last 30 years.

The ACNC must deregister “charities” engaged in criminal activity. Police must charge activists found trespassing, stealing animals or endangering biosecurity; and the law must be capable of effectively dealing with privacy breaches.

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April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm