Decision Maker

Samantha Ratnam

  • Leader of the Victorian Greens

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Petitioning Bruce Atkinson, Matthew Bach, Rod Barton, Shaun Leane, Sonja Terpstra, Melina Bath, Jeff Bourman, Catherine Burnett-Wake, Jane Garrett, Harriet Shing, Georgie Crozier, David Davis, Enver Erdogan, C...

Stop Ag-Gag in Victoria - exposing animal abuse should never be a crime

The Victorian Labor Party will pass ag-gag laws through the lower house which are aimed at silencing activists and protecting animal abusers. We must TAKE ACTION NOW to ensure we stop this in its tracks by demanding it not pass the legislative council.  Those who work to expose the brutal exploitation and abuse of millions of innocent animals across Australian farms and slaughterhouses will face extraordinary fines under the guise of unfounded biosecurity risks if we do not make our voices heard. The proposed amendments to the Livestock Management Bill go against the true findings of the government’s own Inquiry and even beyond the recommendations of the Committee. Sign now! and then go the extra mile by emailing your state members. Tell them Labor must not ignore their own Inquiry and that other MP's should call them out by opposing these unjust, flawed and discriminatory amendments. Email contacts are at the end of this petition. It was announced in December 2021 in response to recommendations from the ‘Inquiry into the impact of animal rights activism on Victorian agriculture’, that people caught trespassing on agricultural animal abuse properties would now receive not only huge on-the-spot fines of over $1000, but also face penalties of up to $10,904 each or $54,522 for organisations. When considering those numbers, keep in mind the Inquiry also found that the average fine for an animal cruelty prosecution (which is as rare as hens teeth, particularly in agriculture) is $1400. These additional penalties came from pressure from the Nationals and were not backed up by the Inquiry submissions, nor its findings. Such actions make it clear that the Victorian Government does not care about the spread of disease, the suffering of animals nor the findings of their own Inquiry, but they do care about pressure from the animal abuse sector whose greatest ongoing threat is growing public awareness of standard industry practices and the growth of the animal liberation movement.      A member from their own party in the Inquiry’s committee did not support the recommendations leading to even the initial absurd on-the-spot fines, highlighting in her minority report that sufficient penalties for trespass already exist. In response to Finding 5 ‘animal rights activists who trespass onto agricultural facilities pose a biosecurity risk’ Labor MP Sonja Terpstra stated: “Disagree. There is no evidence to support this conclusion.” In response to Finding 6, that Acts of trespass on agricultural facilities by animal rights activists are a risk to the health and safety of farmers, agricultural employees, livestock, emergency services, the public and activists themselves, the Labor MP stated: “Risk posed by animal activists trespassing:• health and safety of farmers – no direct evidence of this;• agricultural employees – no direct evidence of this;• livestock, • emergency services – no direct evidence of this,• the public – no direct evidence of this;• activists themselves – no direct evidence of this.Disagree with finding as no evidence was provided about this citing examples where health and safety breaches were recorded or logged with WorkSafe Victoria.” Even Agriculture Victoria confirmed during the Inquiry that there had been no biosecurity incidents caused by animal rights activists and Superintendent Greaney from Victoria Police advised the Committee that in his view current legislation in this area is adequate. As Vegan Rising found in our own review of all submission made to the Inquiry in 2019: "Upon examining the 489 submissions, we found that approximately 64% of them were in support of activist rights to expose animal abuse and against increased legislation while 31% were anti-animal activism and expressed their support for tougher legislation targeting individuals who enter farms and slaughterhouses with the intention to document or impede their operation. A further 2% were undecided on their position while 3% were confidential submissions. Interestingly, of the approximately 152 submissions which were in favour of tougher penalties for activists, 73% of these could be identified as having a strong association with the animal agriculture industry, leaving only around 27% of these type of submissions who don’t have an obvious financial motivation for being in favour of limited transparency and public accountability, a worrying statistic when you consider just how many lives are at stake. While there were a number of individuals who identified as animal farmers and were not in favour of tougher restriction of activists, it’s significant to note that of the animal agriculture businesses and industries represented in the submissions as being in favour of increased repression, many of them had facilities that had been investigated and exposed by Aussie Farms for their shocking treatment of animals. Three such facilities are Luv-a-Duk poultry,  Diamond Valley Pork and Rivalea." Our full review is linked below. Also of note from the Inquiry was the following additional comments from Labor MP Sonja Terpstra in relation to statistical evidence provided by Agriculture Victoria on animal activists and any unauthorised activity.“By any standard, the incidence of and likelihood of unauthorised farm entry due to activist activity is very low. Also, instances of protest and trespass related to activism over a 12 month period recorded 11 incidents with no reports of violence or damage to property. Additionally at page 7 of their report, Ag Vic state that there are 21,000 farms in Victoria. The statistical likelihood of unauthorised farm entry or targeting is statistically lower that the risk of a house in a suburban built up area being burgled.” and later: “Given the low incidence of offences recorded by authorities, there is no evidence that would justify an increase in fines, penalties or sentences in the areas of trespass, theft or biosecurity as they are adequate.” Finally, section 6 of Ms Terpstra’s minority report ‘Things left unexplored’ stated: “In my view, there were issues or themes not dealt with at all or superficially which could have also informed the deliberations of the committee. Some of these limitations arise from the narrowness ofthe terms of reference for the inquiry.There was a lack of:• Direct evidence provided by employees who work on farms about health and safety concerns that they may have experienced as a result of unauthorised entry on farms by activist;• Ability to receive information and/or exploration of how farmers could potentially use science, technology and innovation to reduce unnecessary production of animals to produce food;• Information as to whether employees who work in slaughter houses are trained and could benefit by receiving proper, adequate and appropriate training in correct methods for animal slaughter/butchery;• Consideration around mental health support for farmers and abattoir workers. As an industry, abattoir workers have high rates of PTSD, PITS and other associated disorders and behaviours arising from having to kill animals;• Evidence about whether any losses incurred by unauthorized entry onto farms by activists were or could be covered by insurance.In my view this presented a lost opportunity for the committee to explore these themes further“ In short:The Inquiry was almost entirely a waste of time and tax payer dollars. Aside from a commitment to review alternatives to blunt force trauma and live chick maceration, the government has essentially decided to do what they like anyway. These arbitrary fines have clearly been driven by politics over evidence, science and reason. SIGN NOW to stop the government from further protecting animal abusers by silencing those who expose them. Working to protect the most vulnerable from brutal abuse and suffering should never be a crime. Sign now! Go the extra mile and send a personal email to your local state members and cc other members of the upper house, the Premier Dan Andrews and the Minister for Agriculture, Mary-Anne Thomas. You may also like to consider emailing Sonja Terpstra directly to thank her for her rational input and ask whether she will be supporting these unjust penalties that she clearly opposes and knows are not backed by evidence and Legislative Council Eastern Eastern Southern South Eastern Western Western Northern Northern Related documents:Our submission to the Inquiry here.Our summary on the overall submissions here.Committee’s Report inc. findings and recommendations here.Government response to the Report here.Mary-Anne Thomas’ reading and Bill amendments here.

Vegan Rising
6,248 supporters
Petitioning Daniel Andrews, James Merlino, Jenny Mikakos, Hon. Dan Tehan MP, Luke Donnellan, Tim Richardson, Harriet Shing, Sam Hibbins, Cindy McLeish, Bernie Finn, Tim Bull, Samantha Ratnam, Brett Sutton, Cor...

Urgent need for special schools to be afforded equal health rights as mainstream schools

As special needs educators, we have always instilled in our students that they have a voice and have the same rights as others in their community.  When Covid-19 hit Melbourne, Victoria in a bigger and stronger wave than the first, and stage 3 restrictions were reinstated, we watched the press conference headed by the HON Daniel Andrews, announcing the changes to term three schooling. Our expectation was that specialist settings would not be treated any differently to other educators and students in Melbourne, Victoria. To our disbelief, this was not the case. The HON Daniel Andrews announced that while mainstream students prep- 10 would be given a one week holiday extension, and staff would return for five days of pupil free planning days, before a possible return to remote learning, special education settings would return to school as normal.  All teachers regardless of their setting, teach to achieve equity through education. The health and safety of our students is paramount to them achieving this, as is the health and safety of the staff entrusted to deliver this education.   This decision to return special education students to school regardless of Covid-19 and regardless of their right to a safe education, will have a detrimental effect on students who are already vulnerable in so many ways.  We ask that you sign this petition to let the HON Daniel Andrews, James Merlino, Meredith Peace and any other bystander know, that the lives of students living with a disability matter, that their health and safety matters, and that so do that of the staff who support them. We ask that they protect us in the same way they are willing to protect mainstream staff and students, therefore, keeping them home in the first week of term 3, 2020. We also ask that any health and safety decisions made about mainstream students in the future, also be afforded to special needs students. Please sign to show your support for the health rights of special needs students in Melbourne.  

Concerned Special Education Staff Melbourne Victoria
6,183 supporters
Petitioning Samantha Ratnam

Free Montfort Park!

If you live in Brunswick, you may have noticed the fenced-off, concreted unused lot at the corner of Henkel St and Wendel St. It is a piece of land called “Montfort Park.” It was publicly accessible space that was enjoyed by the local community until 2003 when it, together with the adjacent community centre, was sold off by Moreland Council to the Dar al-Awda Community Centre. We arrived in Henkel Street after this took place. But from what we have been able to gather—from Council records and from news reports at the time—the sale was highly controversial. You can still read the faded graffiti on the wall that backs on to Montfort Park: “Council Betrayal: Our Land Sold Off.” In total there were 2,098 submissions to Council before the sale took place. Of these, 2,095 submissions were against the sale. Only three were in favour. There were significant public protests at the time. It appears to us that there was a clear conflict of interest surrounding the sale. The President of the Dar al-Awda Community Group was also a former Mayor of Moreland Council and a Moreland Councillor at the time of the sale. The land was sold for $100,000, which was only 19% of the land’s assessed value.  Perhaps because of the strength of sentiment against the sale, conditions were placed on the use of the land. The Dar al-Awda Centre is required to make this space reasonably accessible to the community—to the people who live here. We do not believe it is currently meeting this requirement. We think selling this park was manifestly wrong at the time, and remains wrong today. We also believe that this space is not reasonably accessible to local residents, as is required. What could have been a green public space at the end of our street is instead a fenced, unused concrete slab. We believe it’s not too late to free Montfort Park. With the coming Council election to be held on 22 October, we think there is an opportunity to lobby candidates to commit to returning Montfort Park to the community. What does this mean? We think:• The locked gate to needs to be unlocked immediately; and• The three metre fence needs to be removed within a reasonable timeframe; and• If these requests for reasonable access are refused, the Council should exercise its right to buy back the land, in accordance with the terms of the contract of sale, for 19 percent of its current market value. If you are interested in seeing Montfort Park returned to the community, please consider doing the following: 1. Signing this petition. This will let Moreland Council, current councillors, and candidates in the upcoming elections know that this in an issue the community cares about. 2. Liking our Facebook page here: Contacting election candidates. In the lead up to the forthcoming Moreland Council elections, contact candidates over the phone, in person, via email or social media (Facebook, Twitter etc) and ask them to commit to returning Montfort Park to the community. 4. ​Chaining yourself to the fence (just kidding) If you lived here at the time and you know anything about the sale or the campaign against it, we’d love to hear from you, please get in touch via Facebook. At the moment, Montfort Park is an empty and unused piece of concrete, locked behind steel gates three metres high.  If Montfort Park is again made accessible to the community, it will provide a public space for local community members--including local residents and employees of local businesses, adults and children--to meet, play, and enjoy. Free Montfort Park!

The Free Montfort Park Campaign
509 supporters
Dan Andrews: Don't strip Maroondah hospital of its Indigenous name and rename after Queen

The Victorian Labor Government’s decision to rename Maroondah Hospital is utterly disrespectful. Changing the name of a hospital from Woiwurrung First Nations language to the name of a foreign monarch who represents colonisations erases one of the few references to First Nations language we have. It’s the sort of decision that calls into question the Government’s approach to Treaty, when they double down and refuse to listen to First Nations people. Earlier this week the Greens introduced a motion calling on the Government to immediately reverse its terrible decision, and while the Government blocked us from voting on it in the Parliament, we will continue to fight alongside First Nations communities to retain this hospital’s original name. As Victoria embarks on an historic Treaty process, it’s important that we listen to First Nations communities and act now, not in the future. Please, keep sharing this petition. Samantha Ratnam, Leader of the Victorian Greens

9 months ago

Thank you for signing this petition to ‘Ban the Whip’. It is an important step on getting our governments to act. Like you I can’t believe that deliberate cruelty to animals for sport, like allowing whipping, is still acceptable. The Victorian Greens have long advocated against cruelty to animals. We believe that the way we treat our animals reflects who we are. We’ve seen in recent media reports that racehorses are being subjected to unacceptable, inhumane and intolerable cruelty. Thousands of horses are being killed in knackeries and abattoirs and being subjected electric shocks and lashings. The lashings in particular are no secret, and don’t only take place behind closed doors. Each year we see jockeys whip racehorses as they compete in the Melbourne Cup and the other hundreds of races that take place around Australia. Behind the glossy façade of the festivities lies a cruel and inhumane underbelly, that sees these poor horses forced to run around the racetrack while being viciously whipped by the jockeys riding them. That’s why last week I introduced a motion to ban the whip in Victoria. Our state and federal governments play a critical role in ending cruelty to racehorses by banning the whip and it's time they act. We know the racing industry has a history of cruelty to animals and yet both the state Labor Government and the federal Liberal Government want to absolve themselves of any guilt by pretending they have no power to stop it. But we know that they can end this cruel practice. That’s why this petition holds so much power. The 100,000+ people that have signed it so far are sending a clear message that they won’t tolerate horse whipping anymore and want to see the government act to ban it immediately. It’s 2019 – the use of the whip in horse racing is an outdated and unnecessary form of animal cruelty and should be banned in Victoria. The Victorian Greens will continue to advocate for the protection and safety of animals including an end to greyhound racing, jumps racing, rodeos, the use of animals in circuses and of course, the use of whips in horse racing. Thank you all again for signing this important petition.

4 years ago