Activist fine sets a 'dangerous precedent'

VFF slams 'deplorable' animal activist decision


Agribusiness
Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke.

Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke.

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The decision to give animal activists who trespassed onto a farm and stole livestock a slap on the wrist has been slammed by the VFF.

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VIC Farmers Federation president David Jochinke has launched a scathing attack on the light punishment handed out to animal activists who broke into a Gippsland, Vic, farm and stole livestock.

Mr Jochinke said the decision to hand Cara Garrett a $1 fine for breaking biosecurity laws and another $1 fine for housing livestock without a property identification code as a "dangerous precedent".

"It is deplorable, there is no other way to describe it," he said.

He said rather than send a message that trespassing was an offence with serious consequences, the paltry fines would further embolden already militant animal activist groups.

It just beggars belief that this sort of stuff is virtually being sanctioned by our authorities. - DAVID JOCHINKE

"This kind of slap of the wrist simply endorses what these fanatics are doing," he said.

"We have law-abiding families being terrorised by a group of people with a particular set of beliefs that can only be described as fanatics. If this was occurring in any other walk of life, there would be absolute uproar."

Mr Jochinke said the spate of trespassing by animal activists, combined with initiatives such as the infamous Aussie Farms map, highlighting the location of farm businesses, was all contributing to a normalisation of the demonisation of the farming community.

"It just beggars belief that this sort of stuff is virtually being sanctioned by our authorities," he said.

"This is just going to create more of this type of activity."

Related reading:Gippy Goat owner appalled by activist's $1 fine

Mr Jochinke stressed his comments applied to activists who were actively breaking the law.

"We welcome people with different dietary habits or with particular views on animal welfare," he said.

"But have a debate with us, engage in discussion, don't just take the law into your own hands."

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the creation of new privacy laws to help protect farmers - a key push in Stock Journal's #ProtectOurFarms campaign - was a priority.

"I'm working with the Attorney-General as he investigates beefing up privacy laws to help farmers," he said.

"The safety of farming families and their children is at risk here. No-one likes the address of their family home put online for all to see, especially when information is wrong in many cases."

Opposition agriculture spokesperson Joel Fitzgibbon pledged to discuss the matter with state governments to come up with protection for those in the agriculture industry.

"If elected, I'll list these matters at the first meeting of a rejuvenated COAG body, a process left to languish under the present government," he said.

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