Crackdown on ‘moron’ vegan activists
Morons, ratbags, smelly-hairy greenies, cultists, fascists - just a few choice words conservative senators have launched at vegan farm invaders.
Both chambers of parliament on Thursday agreed to legislation creating new federal offences for inciting trespass, theft and damage on Australian farms.
After earlier passing the Senate the bill returned to the lower house for final approval, after the government amended it to include forestry facilities.
Only independent MP Andrew Wilkie and Greens MP Adam Bandt opposed the bill, with the minor party member arguing the changes were targeted towards people protesting against logging.
Earlier, Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie said the measures, which include up to five years' prison for the most serious crimes, were a firm response to an online activist map with farmers' details.
"It's not a badge of honour to walk around and say 'Yay I've been locked up for sticking it to the man, sticking it to Australian farmers' - you're actually a criminal," she told parliament.
The minister said militant animal activists were fascists because they imposed their ideology on the broader public, turning the Greens' label for the bill's supporters against them.
Greens senator Jordon Steele-John encouraged Nationals, Liberal and Labor senators to hit the stand-up comedy circuit after their speeches.
He said the bill was unnecessary, arguing the agriculture industry had repeatedly failed to meet community expectations on animal welfare.
"It seeks to impose upon activists penalties that exceed the penalties which are to be faced by those who abuse animals in the most horrendous way," Senator Steele-John said.
But Senator McKenzie insists the laws protect people who legitimately expose animal cruelty, including journalists.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson described farm invaders as "morons, ratbags and idiots".
"They are actually killing animals. They are actually seeing the death of animals," she told parliament.
Senator Hanson pointed to an invasion of a Queensland chicken farm where protesters dropped the protective shutters, with the loud bang resulting in hundreds of birds dying.
She said a "terrorist" in Spain attempting to rescue rabbits inadvertently led to the death of 100 of the animals last week.
Northern Territory Nationals senator Sam McMahon raised the scenario of "smelly, hairy" greenies in Sydney inciting mobs to storm farms and hurt animals.
She said the "terrifying" scenario wasn't a wild fantasy, with a pig farmer telling her an invasion led to miscarriages and the death of escaped piglets.
"This is what the Greens want to see happen - baby pigs drowning in effluent," she said.
Her party room colleague Susan McDonald said Aussie Farms - the group behind the map - Extinction Rebellion, Australia Day activists and climate alarmists had ridden roughshod over decency and fairness.
"If you have an opinion that diverges from the cultists they don't just want to disagree with you, they want to destroy you, your family and your livelihood," the Queenslander said.
Greens senator Nick McKim questioned whether Pokemon Go's creator could be in trouble if damage was caused by people chasing characters on farms. "Let me make it very clear to any future judge: Charizard, Pikachu and Jigglypuff are safe from the bill," Senator McKenzie said.
"It is not intended to capture Pokemon Go participants and gamers."