Vegan Protesters To Face Jail Under New Laws To Protect Farmers
Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants vegan activists who target farmers' homes to face jail terms of up to 12 months.
If re-elected in May, Morrison plans to change the laws to prevent vegan activists from using private information about farmers to harass them.
"They are being targeted in the most mercenary way by an organisation that can only think of itself and not think of the real damage that is being done to the livelihoods of these hard-working Australians," the PM said on Wednesday.
He promised to introduce laws banning people from inciting criminal activity against farmers, with jail terms up to 12 months.
“If you use the personal information of our family farmers to incite trespass then you deserve to go to jail," said agriculture minister David Littleproud.
"Now states must beef up farm trespass laws -- if 100 of my mates stormed a house in Sydney we’d expect to be locked up and farmers deserve the same protection."
The Aussie Farms website publishes an interactive map of farms across the country, which the organisation says exposes animal exploitation in a secretive industry.
Vegan protesters on Monday launched a cross-border campaign targeting a busy Melbourne street, plus abattoirs and farms in Victoria, NSW and Queensland.
It resulted in scores of arrests, criminal charges and a renewed call from farmers to take action, with the federal government committing to underwrite legal claims.
Privacy laws were changed last Friday to potentially expose the Aussie Farms website to significant penalties for publishing farmers' addresses and contact details.
Attorney-General Christian Porter said the new laws would include exemptions for "bona-fide journalists" and whistle-blowers looking to expose animal cruelty.
"We have seen with Aussie Farms the malicious use of personal information, including farmers’ names, addresses and workplaces, designed specifically to encourage others to trespass on properties and damage businesses," he said.
“This is not acceptable and the Morrison Government will, if re-elected, introduce a new criminal offence specifically designed to protect Australian farmers from the sort of vigilante action we have seen this week."
"Penalties of up to 12 months imprisonment will apply to individuals who use a carriage service, such as the internet, to disclose personal information with the intention that another person would use that information to trespass on agricultural land. The law would also apply to other primary producers such as abattoirs."