Author Topic: No excuse to keep cases of animal cruelty secret says animal group Voiceless  (Read 638 times)

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No excuse to keep cases of animal cruelty secret says animals rights group Voiceless   
  •   The Weekly Times 
  • June 18, 2014 12:00AM
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VICTORIAN Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh last week confirmed to The Weekly Times that tough new legislation targeting animal activists will be introduced before the next Victorian state election to better ďprotectĒ farmers.

Clearly, the Minister would prefer to conceal the truth about the lives of factory-farmed animals rather than improve them.

Swathes of footage collected by activists in sow-stall piggeries, battery-cage henneries and intensive duck sheds have been broadcast across Australia.

It has resulted in the forced closure of commercial operators and producers being fined heavily for misleading and deceptive conduct.

Most importantly, the footage has fuelled a growing movement of ethical consumers. The fact is, once consumers see the suffering inflicted by battery cages, most tend not to want to buy cage eggs.

Surely the progression towards greater consumer awareness and producer transparency within Australiaís food chain is something that should be encouraged, not criminalised.

Incidents of illegal cruelty seem to be a matter of routine within factory farms, but often these crimes would not be exposed without the use of surveillance.

While the Government is supposed to safeguard animal welfare, inadequate enforcement means much of the work is left to employees, whistleblowers and activists.

With tough laws against trespass already in place, itís clear that calls to stamp out animal activism arenít designed to close a gap in Australian law but rather to preserve the veil of secrecy that shrouds factory farms.

These laws clearly suppress the publicís right to question the status quo, and in so doing pose serious implications, not only for animal activists and consumers, but for free communication and the ability of all civil groups to engage in legitimate public debate.

The fact is, if we let factory farms gag their critics, who will be targeted next?

Elise Burgess is communications head of animal rights group Voiceless