'It won't stop us': Why protesters could face a $1000 fine

Michael Dahlstrom
·News and Video Producer

A prominent activist argues a plan to slug trespassers who protest on farms with a $1,000 fine will not deter them.

The inquiry into the impact of animal rights activism on Victorian agriculture, released on Tuesday, suggested the fines would be a strong deterrent to activities which breach biosecurity laws.

Aussie Farms executive director Chris Delforce told Yahoo News Australia that the threat of fines would not influence the actions of most protesters.

Protesters inside an egg sorting facility. Source: Supplied
Protesters inside an egg sorting facility. Source: Supplied

“Honestly I don’t think fines are going to make much of a difference,” he said.

“People who protest at farms, people who capture footage and expose what’s happening, they’re already aware that they’re risking their liberty and safety to do so.

“They believe that what is happening to animals in these places is far more important to expose than anything that can happen to them personally.”

Mr Delforce argues that Australia has “a long, proud history” of civil disobedience, but governments are trying to crack down on these freedoms.

Chris Delforce says fines will not deter activists from entering farms. Source: Supplied
Chris Delforce says fines will not deter activists from entering farms. Source: Supplied

“Laws like these do nothing to address the reasons that activists go to these extremes,” he said.

“If they wanted to stop activists protesting they’d be better off pushing for greater transparency in the industry.”

Mr Delforce who maintains a website that publishes activist footage shot inside farms said the protests will only cease when “commercialised animal cruelty” is stopped.

Call for mandatory jail terms rejected

While one submission to the inquiry called for mandatory jail terms for trespassing activists, the parliamentary committee instead suggested a new fineable offence be created.

Under the recommendation, police would have the power to issue on the spot penalties to protesters who ignore biosecurity warnings on properties.

Activists display a protest sign on the roof of a duck meat farm. Source: Supplied
Activists display a protest sign on the roof of a duck meat farm. Source: Supplied

“Those animal rights activists who are engaging in illegal behaviour must stop,” committee chair Nazih Elasmar said in a statement.

“They can make their point, but they must do so without harassing and frightening farmers and their families and staff.

“The committee has determined that animal rights activism poses a significant biosecurity risk to animal agriculture businesses and to our economy.”

More than 500 written submissions were received by the committee and 57 witnesses including farmers, abattoir owners, transport operators and animal rights activists gave evidence.

Committee recommendations also include installing CCTV cameras in abattoirs and a modernisation of animal cruelty laws.

The Victorian government has six months to respond to the committee’s report.

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