#AgGag Victory in Australia!

by Will Potter on September 26, 2014

in Terrorism Legislation

AusHen2013_JMcArthur-4275A U.S.-style “ag-gag” proposal to restrict undercover investigations has just been defeated in South Australia.

The Surveillance Devices Bill would have cracked down on undercover investigations—particularly those by animal rights groups—by criminalizing the publication of undercover video.

Activists and journalists would have faced a $15,000 fine or imprisonment of three years. Organizations involved in the investigations would face a maximum penalty of $75,000.

It was strongly opposed by animal protection groups such as Voiceless, and also media organizations and labor unions.

[Photo by Jo-Anne McArthur, We Animals]

“The concerns with this bill were held by both the media and also civil society advocates for whether it was animal rights or consumer affairs,” Greens MLC Tammy Franks said.ag-gag-australia

The proposal was similar to U.S.-style “ag-gag” bills promoted by the agriculture industry to stop the negative publicity created by covert undercover video of animal cruelty.

The bill did not explicitly focus on slaughterhouses or factory farms, but Minister Gail Gago noted when it was introduced that animal activists were central to the debate.

Ag-gag has been a growing debate in Australia within the last year. I recently completed a month-long tour about ag-gag laws there, and the media and public response to the bills was overwhelmingly against them.

The defeated of this proposal in South Australia is a major victory. But more ag-gag proposals are being concerned at the state and federal level.

“The (Victorian) Government has been considering workable measures that can be introduced to give legitimate farming business protection against unlawful activism,” a spokeswoman for Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said.



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