NEW England MP Barnaby Joyce has labelled activists who break into farms to film incidents of animal cruelty “vigilantes” who deserve to be prosecuted under tighter laws.
The federal Agriculture Minister told a press conference in Tamworth last week he did not condone people committing unlawful acts under the guise of animal protection.
The hardline stance has drawn criticism from animal rights groups, who claim such covert operations are crucial in detecting and highlighting instances of animal abuse.
But Mr Joyce said stronger laws “certainly should” deter campaigners with political agendas from illegally entering farms and filming without the owners’ knowledge.
“It’s really important that we understand that people who break into someone’s property, break into someone’s dairy, break into their poultry farms, are breaking and entering – they’re vigilantes,” he said.
“If you believe that you have the right to break into someone’s private property because it’s your moral desire to do so, then why stop at farms?
“These vigilantes could use exactly the same argument to break in and put a camera in someone’s house.
“If you believe that something is going wrong, you inform the police, you inform the RSPCA, you don’t take it into your own hands.”
Mr Joyce’s comments come as NSW Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson seeks to implement tough new biosecurity laws to crack down on so-called “agri-terrorism”.
Animal rights lobby group Voiceless has previously called for the government to legislate for the mandatory installation of CCTV cameras across all factories and processing facilities.
The Leader’s Facebook followers were divided on the issue, with Geoffrey Ward writing: “Think of it this way, would you be happy if a person broke into your house because they suspected you were breaking the law? Of course not, there are processes in place to report suspected crimes.”
But Deanna Morley posted: “Yes they are trespassing and I agree that trespassing is undesirable, but they have also proven that the appropriate authorities are not handling cases of animal abuse, they are not cracking down on those who are abusing animals and that also needs to be addressed more stringently by the minister for agriculture.”