ON the back of claims of radical activist behaviour and breaches of international law, the Federal government has been called to cut its links with animal welfare charity Animals Australia.
Federal MP for O'Connor, Rick Wilson addressed Parliament on Tuesday in the wake of the dismissal of Emmanual Exports cruelty charges the previous week and coinciding with a visit from Western Australian representatives of the North Eastern Wheatbelt Regional Organisation of Councils, Caroline Robinson, Quentin Davies and Tony Sachse.
Mr Wilson read out a letter he and fellow Liberal party politician, WA senator Slade Brockman, wrote to Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt on Monday, urging him to sever all official ties between the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and Animals Australia, in addition to immediately removing Animals Australia from the Live Export Animal Welfare Advisory Group.
"Animals Australia's campaigns are scurrilous, morally indefensible and based around a fundraising model that cannot be justified in civil society," the letter said.
"By disassociating from Animals Australia, the department can reaffirm its stance as a global leader in animal welfare and uphold the integrity of Australia's agricultural sector.
"If you continue to allow Animals Australia a privileged position in discussions with DAFF, then you share their moral culpability.
"The fact they have a special place at the table with DAFF, legitimises their activities, and their attacks upon agriculture."
Mr Wilson said Animals Australia had a business model based around the use of visual footage, allegedly fraudulently obtained via cash payments, to attack legitimate agricultural industries and undermine public trust in agriculture.
The letter alleges Animals Australia's use of photographs and videos of animals in distress to raise donations, was in turn used to acquire new footage of animals suffering.
"This cycle is for the sole purpose of de-legitimising agricultural, particularly livestock production," the letter said.
"This business model is starkly contradictory to the ethos and mission of the DAFF."
The Awassi Express incident was the cause of much anguish in the sheep industry, across Australia and was cited by Mr Watt as a key reason for the phase-out of live sheep exports by sea.
"Minister, if you choose to stand with the activists, you own every action that comes to light as our investigations continue, and you will lose the confidence of every farmer in Australia," Mr Wilson said.
Animals Australia chief executive officer Glenys Oogjes, in a statement to Farm Weekly, said the organisation had not done anything wrong.
"Any suggestion of wrongdoing on the part of Animals Australia is denied," Ms Oogjes said.
"It is noteworthy that Mr Wilson has chosen to make his claims under the protection of parliamentary privilege.
"The only parties that stand rightfully accused of 'cash for cruelty' are the live sheep export companies - which have made hundreds of millions of dollars on the back of incalculable and egregious animal suffering."