Joyce still backs anti-trespass laws

18 Feb, 2015 06:05 AM
You cannot decide to take the law into your own hands - you can’t have illegally obtained evidence

AGRICULTURE Minister Barnaby Joyce has refused to speculate on whether video footage used to uncover animal cruelty in the greyhound industry would have been subverted by new trespass laws proposed by the Coalition.

Last week, Liberal Senator Chris Back tabled a private Senator’s Bill aimed at addressing escalating trespass incidents on Australian livestock facilities by animal rights activists, gathering video footage covertly.

The timing of that move has prompted questions about the validity of video evidence broadcast on ABC's Four Corners this week exposing live baiting in the greyhound racing industry.

Similar to video footage gathered covertly to attack the live animal export industry and other livestock industries, the animal welfare issues are being portrayed as systemic, sparking calls to ban the sport.

Trespass is breaking the law

Mr Joyce has described the animal rights activists who take the law into their own hands by trespassing on livestock farms or abattoirs as “vigilantes”, causing biosecurity and safety risks.

Asked whether Senator Back’s Bill would have prevented the undercover exposure of greyhound industry issues and if the secret filming behind it was “immoral”, Mr Joyce said trespass onto a private or business property was breaking the law.

“Why should people be allowed to trespass onto a farm?” he said.

“You cannot decide to take the law into your own hands. Once you do that, once you make that exclusion that apparently you can break the law for this person, then where does it stop?

"Everybody has in their own purview an ethical reason to break into some industry, because of what they judge to be correct (but) that judgment overwhelmingly is done by the police or it’s done by the RSPCA.

“It can’t be done by people off their own volution because once we say, ‘oh well you can go outside the law on this issue’, well you’ll definitely have someone say, ‘well I believe what that doctor is doing is unethical therefore I determine that it is my right to put a camera in their roof’.

“And then someone will say well I believe what that accountant is doing is unethical ... and this just leads to anarchy.”

Asked whether authorities should investigate how the greyhound racing footage was filmed, Mr Joyce said to be admissible in court, any evidence has to be legally obtained.

“You can’t have illegally obtained evidence and then call for it to be admissible,” he said.

Proposal 'adds insult to injury'

In an opinion article for Fairfax Media, University of NSW School of Social Sciences social policy lecturer Siobhan O'Sullivan said if the type of legislation Senator Back seeks were already in place, it would not be 22 greyhound owners and trainers facing legal action; “it would be Lyn White, from Animals Australia, and activists from Animal Liberation Queensland”.

“If that were to occur, it would add insult to injury, or, rather, injustice to unspeakable animal abuse,” she wrote.

“The law, if passed, would make the type of investigation Animals Australia, Animal Liberation Queensland and Four Corners have undertaken into the greyhound industry impossible.

“That is, of course, the point of such legislation.”

Siobhan O'Sullivan compared Senator Back’s proposed laws to US-styler “ag gag laws which she said “seek to duplicate existing trespass laws, but they do so with a twist”.

“Typically, they seriously increase penalties; make it illegal to distribute or broadcast images that have not been surrendered to the police; and create a crime of seeking employment with the aim of exposing animal suffering,” she said.

“In other words, ag gag laws are intentionally designed to ensure animal activists are unable to let the community know about socially invisible animal suffering.”

But Senator Back has repeatedly rejected the “ag gag” comparisons of his proposal.

The Bill’s explanatory memorandum says it uses “the least rights restrictive approach in that it does not censor or restrict media coverage”.

“It does not require material to be approved before it may be published,” it says.

“It does not restrict the ability of journalists to protect their sources. The Bill is not designed to censor the media or any other person in any way. Nor is it designed to allow the relevant authorities to censor the media or any other person in any way.”

Colin Bettles

Colin Bettles

is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


18/02/2015 8:51:26 AM

These people seem to think they are above the law. Police have rules governing how they gather evidence. They solve crime working within such restrictions without crying foul. Why shouldn't these people have to do the same instead of whinging and crying about not being allowed to act illegally.
Barnaby is a fool
18/02/2015 9:22:24 AM

Well of course he will back this draconian bill which protects those being cruel. He would look even more stupid than he aleady is. As for daw...cruelty and abuse is also illegal or perhaps you dont get that.
18/02/2015 10:56:33 AM

Well poor old Barnaby has stitched himself up. The greyhound cruelty has revealed that it is sometimes in the public interest to trespass. And perhaps Barnaby can stop apologising for multi-national food companies who have done everything possible to stop clear and transparent food labelling and obscure the real source of food. It has been the Coalition that has tried to water down rules in the name of "too much red tape". Sorry Barnaby but it is time you went back to your accounting practice.
18/02/2015 11:27:03 AM

The cruel and illegal practices of the greyhound racing industry have gone undetected despite GRV officers inspecting that site 16 times in the last 5 years. Activists and Four Corners revealed the situation. Just what is Barnaby trying to fix?
18/02/2015 12:21:45 PM

Barnaby appears to be doing his best to support the cruel offensive abuse that's inflicted on animals everywhere and at the same pretends to hate animal cruelty. What a hypocrite this person is. We don't need the likes of him around. This barbaric ,mindless cruelty must be investigated and jail time for those responsible . No excuses for the horrendous ongoing abuse of racing dogs and the helpless live baited animals.
19/02/2015 7:30:30 AM

joker jones stick to your berries, perhaps you should have a little sit and imagine yourself tied to a lure and mauled till you cant scream antymore whilst being flung around a track at high speed you should be thanking animals australia and four corners for exposing this animal torture not seeking justification to condone it shame on you and your government representation is a blight on australians
19/02/2015 1:37:29 PM

I applaud those who risk life and limb to show us what those who profit from animals fight so hard to hide. Only people like Chris Back and Barnaby could look at video of the most barbaric animal cruelty and seek to punish those who exposed it, not those who perpetrate it. I'm disgusted.
19/02/2015 2:16:16 PM

daw, you are absolutely correct, animal rights do not override the rule of law. We do not need ratbags taking stupid risks of their life and limb when specially trained and legal law enforcement agencies have the responsibility to pursue and deal within the law of this land. These clowns should be charged for not reporting such identified illegal activities to the appropriate authorities as soon as they were made aware of them. How many more animals were affected while they waited for their moment of infamous glory. It is never in the public interest to break the law.
19/02/2015 7:50:25 PM

Barnaby, Chris Back and Senator Leyonhjelm justify the ag-gag bill by claiming all who oppose it are radical extremists who want to abolish all farming industries. This is a deliberate misrepresentation. Most middle-of-the-road citizens value our rural industries and are not vegetarians or vegans, but they are opposed to animal cruelty and therefore they do not support draconian laws designed to prevent whistleblowing and severely punish whistleblowers.
20/02/2015 8:24:55 AM

It's hard to understand those supporting trespass for any reason. If you do actually support trespass, you wouldn't mind if I break and enter your house or garden at night, planting video and recording your movements. In your opinion it's justifiable because there may be abuse occurring to either your children or animals. It doesn't matter if I find any evidence or not the trespass and terror it may cause you is entirely justifiable because there may be abuse occurring. What are you people taking, one crime doesn't justify another. Trespass is a serious crime.
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