Target: Greg Hunt, Australian Minister for the Environment
Goal: Don’t ban public disclosure of evidence of commercial animal cruelty
Ag-gag laws like the ones recently introduced in some American states are now being considered in many Australian states. If signed into law, it could be illegal to covertly film or photograph cruelty in farms and slaughterhouses. Those who are caught could face a three-year jail term as well as hefty fines, depending on the state. The laws, which Australian authorities claim are to protect the livestock industry from financial loss associated with the disclosure of cruelty in the media, could actually help keep cruelty under wraps.
A state in Australia recently outlawed factory farms, a huge step in improving their agricultural industry. When it was found that a slaughterhouse in Indonesia employed sub-standard treatment toward Australian livestock, federal officials banned all exports to the country until a resolution was made, stating that the welfare of Australian farm animals was a priority. Furthermore, the government recently denounced the abuse of sheep during shearing brought to light by the same video leaks that are at risk of being outlawed.
If Australia is truly concerned with the welfare of farm animals, they should have no problem with allowing activists to bring cruelty and breaches of proper procedure to the attention of the public. Attempting to disallow citizens to disclose proof of illegal behaviors is a breach of freedom of speech rights and an affront to animal welfare legislation. Your signature will demand that the ag-gag laws currently under consideration be thrown out, and that Australia instead continue to push for responsible farming as protection for the livestock industry.
Dear Mr. Hunt,
Some Australian states are currently considering implementing restrictions on the public’s ability to disclose evidence of animal cruelty in commercial farming operations. If signed into law, the proposed ag-gag laws would carry penalties of up to three years in prison as well as a hefty fine for those who film or photograph animals being treated poorly.
While Australia and some of its states have made significant progress in reducing animal cruelty with new regulations, proposed ag-gag laws threaten to negate this progress. The laws could make it easier for cruel farming operations to fly under the radar of citizens and the media.
Australian officials claim that the purpose of the proposal is to protect agricultural stock values from plummeting after releases of horrific proof of cruelty, but the farming industry’s best protection would simply be to adhere to all animal protection regulations set out by the government. I ask that the federal government halt all proposed bans on photographing and filming illegal animal cruelty in Australia.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Vertigogen via Creative Commons