Ms BATH (Eastern Victoria) (17:20): The Parliament asked the Economy and Infrastructure Committee to inquire into the effectiveness of Victorian legislation in preventing and deterring illegal animal activist activity on Victorian farms. Instead of sticking to the terms of reference the government members pushed this inquiry in a direction that recommends far greater protections for animal activists who trespass and demonise the livestock industry and makes the committee look like apologists for the illegal activity of animal activists.
The committee was set up in response to a number of instances of illegal animal activism and the inadequate judicial response to the trespass and theft of livestock from the Gippy Goat farm and other farms. Instead of recommending greater penalties and judicial reform through training, the committee report explains away the actions of animal activists and recommends protections for activists who actually trespass.
The Liberal and National members of the committee could not support the majority report of the committee because—and there are many reasons—the report is biased and gives undue attention to the motivations of animal activists, conveying the impression of sympathy towards illegal actions of animal activists; the report does not acknowledge that the ultimate goal of most of the activists in this activity is not improving animal welfare outcomes but indeed removing livestock farming altogether; the report gives credence to the claims of animal activists in regard to legal farming practices being cruel; the report does not adequately discuss or acknowledge the impact of animal rights activism on Victorian agriculture; the report strayed from the terms of reference and failed to respect the intent of the actual inquiry; recommendation 1 provides additional legal protections for animal activists that illegally trespass on farming land; recommendations 10, 12 and 14 are outside the terms of reference; and the report does not propose recommendations that adequately ensure activists are appropriately punished for wrongdoing, nor do the recommendations protect farmers from illegal activity.
I acknowledge the work of the secretariat, and I thank all of those who participated in hearings and submissions.