Stop the Australian Government’s Ag-gag Law

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To the Honourable President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled,

The petition of the undersigned shows we strongly oppose the amendments proposed by the Morrison Government in the Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019 (Cth) (“the Bill”). 

Your petitioners ask that the Senate reject the Bill for the following reasons:

·     The offences will restrict access to information, freedom of speech and freedom of press, and the right to protest about matters of public importance, including consumer affairs and animal welfare
·     The offences are unnecessary as existing laws already prohibit trespass and undercover filming, defamation, biosecurity breaches, property damage, and using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence
·     The Bill will not increase transparency in animal agriculture industries which undermines our right to make informed choices about the food we consume, and
·     Instances of animal cruelty in the farming sector may be further hidden from public scrutiny
·     Animal protection groups may be limited in their work to educate the public, report on instances of animal abuse and advocate for better welfare outcomes for farmed animals
·     The offences are too broad and vague, particularly in relation to the interpretation/application of the matter of ‘intent’
·     The Bill is unfair – the maximum penalty for the proposed offence of inciting trespass would exceed the maximum penalties for trespass under existing legislation
·     Whistle-blowers – and not just those in animal agriculture industries – may be exposed to criminal sanctions
·     The Bill may result in costly and time-consuming constitutional challenges (as is currently occurring in the United States of America in relation to similar laws).

(Australian piggery photo credit: Aussie Farms)