‘Don’t give them oxygen’: Alannah MacTiernan blasts vegan activists over protests
Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan has blasted vegan activists over disruptive and intimidating farming protests, and urged people not to give them “the oxygen they crave”.
Her comments came after protesters blocked a major intersection in Melbourne’s CBD on Monday morning, sparking peak- hour traffic chaos.
Thirty-nine people were charged during the protest, which lasted several hours and forced ambulances to seek alternative routes.
“These activists are not winning themselves any support with their actions,” Ms MacTiernan said.
“While they have a right to protest, they don’t have a right to intimidate and disrupt our farmers.
“The State Government is working on reforms to further support farmers, including allowing courts to impose restraining orders on activists, and stronger laws around live-streaming videos.”
Ms MacTiernan said vegans failed to understand that animals formed “a vital part of the plant growing systems”.
“The massive move to the monoculture that would be necessary to have sufficient protein to scrap animals would compromise our ecology,” she said.
“This is an argument farmers can win on its merits.”
Shadow agriculture and food minister and member for Geraldton Ian Blayney said the protests went too far.
“I half understand their sentiments, but they can’t just take the law into their own hands and disrupt people from going about their normal business,” he said.
“This is lawful business that people are doing; you can’t just step in and stop people from going about that.”
Member for Moore Shane Love said Muchea Saleyards were invaded by animal activists a few months ago and many residents in his electorate had contacted him with concerns about trespass.
“I’ve contacted the Minister for Police and the attorney-general and they are considering new restraining laws, which would prohibit convicted activists from going near farms again, similar to domestic violence restraining orders,” Mr Love said.
“But that’s only after someone has already broken the law. It’s not preventative.
“There’s also a very valid point about biosecurity. We don’t want anybody just walking into these areas.”
Australian Greens Senator for WA Rachel Siewert distanced her party from the activists, saying the Greens were “in no way” affiliated with the groups involved.
“We are a party of peace and non-violence, and when people overstep those principles of peaceful protest, for example entering people’s home, they should have to face the consequences,” she said.
But she also accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of using inflammatory language and failing to address concerns about animal welfare standards.
“These protests are a sign of Australia’s growing awareness of animal welfare concerns,” she said.
“If the government wants to avoid these protests in future, it should consider legislation that addresses dodgy operators and boosts animal welfare standards to meet community concerns, while protecting the privacy of farming families that are doing the right thing.”
In Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, protesters have broken into abattoirs and chained themselves to machinery to protest the killing of animals for human consumption in recent weeks.
The owners of a farm cafe in Yarragon, Victoria, closed their doors for good on Sunday after they said they received months of abuse and threats by activists.
The business, the Gippy Goat Cafe, came under fire for manufacturing goats milk products and allowing families to feed the animals onsite.
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