Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath MLC, put forward a motion in the Victorian Upper House yesterday condemning the 'unlawful behavior of animal rights activist groups and individuals who illegally enter law-abiding Victorian farms'.
She claimed 'Victorian farmers are some of the best in the world and adhere to strict animal welfare laws', and 'the safety, health, and security of farmers and their livestock are put at risk by the actions of illegal trespass and theft', calling on the Government 'to ensure that these activists feel the full force of the law'.
Condemning activists instead of cruelty
In response to Bath's claims, Executive Director of animal rights organization Aussie Farms and director of documentary Dominion, Chris Delforce, has issued a statement calling on Bath to acknowledge the inherent cruelty of the animal agriculture industry.
"It's disappointing that instead of trying to address or condemn some of the widely documented cruelty in Australian farms and slaughterhouses, and perhaps make at least some of that cruelty illegal, Ms. Bath is condemning the capturing and publishing of photographs and footage of that cruelty," Delforce said in the statement sent to Plant Based News.
"If she honestly believes that Victorian farmers are some of the best in the world, why not openly acknowledge practices like mutilation without pain relief, excruciatingly painful gas chambers in pig slaughterhouses, or the killing of all the male chicks and male calves in the egg and dairy industries, and let Australian consumers make up their own minds rather than being asked to just take her word for it?
"This echoes the refusal of the federal agriculture minister to engage in a public debate about animal agriculture."
Chris Delforce went undercover to capture footage for his groundbreaking documentary Dominion
The risks of activism
Delforce added that every activist who trespasses onto a factory farm or slaughterhouse to capture evidence of what's happening inside, knows that they do so at great personal risk to their freedom and safety.
"But they also know that there's no other way that consumers will be able to see it for themselves," he said. "New laws aimed at increasing penalties for activists will make no difference to either of those facts. Increasing industry transparency, however, would negate the need for trespass to occur.
"It's also important to note that there has not been, to my knowledge, a single recorded incident of the safety or health of farmers or 'livestock' being affected by peaceful, non-violent trespassing activists.
"In contrast, every single animal housed by farmers are ultimately (and often at a very young age) brutally slaughtered, which is, of course, extremely detrimental to their health and safety. "
The way we view animals
Delforce says there is an 'enormous problem' in Australia in the way animals and other beings are considered inferior to humans.
"Our perceived superiority does not give us the right to exploit, abuse and kill them for profit. Might does not equal right. It is time for an informed national conversation about what we're doing to animals, the key word being informed.
"'Ag-gag' laws such as those alluded to by Ms. Bath only serve to stymie our ability to talk openly about matters of great public interest."