Blair urges NSW police to act on animal activist group

The NSW Government has asked police to investigate the animal activist organisation Aussie Farms that has used a map to pinpoint farms in Australia it alleges where animals have been mistreated.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair has written to the NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman urging him to deregister Aussie Farms as a charity, and for other parts of the government to investigate whether the group has breached trespass and privacy laws.

In a letter, a copy of which has been provided to Australian Community Media, Mr Blair wrote to Mr Speakman saying that he was writing with “great concern” that Aussie Farms was “masquerading as an ‘animal rights charity’”.

“I am of the firm belief that Aussie Farms is nothing more than an irresponsible vigilante organisation that represents a real danger to the public good, the State’s primary industries as well as individual farmers and their families,” Mr Blair wrote.

“The publication of the interactive map demonstrates to me that Aussie Farms has been involved in a sustained and deliberate campaign against the legitimate operations of our farmers and that the people behind this organisation will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.

“This reckless behaviour publicises the details of legitimate businesses and maligns their operations. More than that, many of these businesses are the homes of our hardworking farming families and by shamelessly encouraging activity such as illegal farm trespass to collect ‘evidence’, Aussie Farms puts the livelihoods and the safety of our farmers and their families at risk.

“There is no place for illegal trespass or activism on NSW farms and I strongly condemn any activity that potentially encourages such behaviour.

“With this in mind, as Minister for Primary Industries I formally seek your urgent assistance in investigating all legal matters in relation to Aussie Farms. This includes reviewing its status as a registered charity, examining its promotion of illegal activity under the State’s new aggravated trespass laws and investigating the legality of the publication of the online map, including any potential breaches of privacy legislation in NSW.

“In addition to legal concerns, I am also exceptionally concerned that by inciting illegal trespass, this website may also facilitate a significant biosecurity incident in our State’s primary industries. Our producers implement strict on-farm measures to protect their properties from the entry and spread of pests and diseases. This allows NSW to maintain an enviable global reputation for safe and reliable produce. Any threat to these biosecurity measures and this reputation could have enormous ramifications to all primary industry sectors across NSW.

“In recognition of these risks, I recently made changes to NSW biosecurity legislation, strengthening provisions for on-farm trespass, including significant penalties for farm intrusions by activists. I have also asked my agency to conduct an urgent risk assessment the biosecurity threats presented by farm trespass across the state.

“NSW is home to some of the world’s most resilient, hardworking and innovative farmers, who are not only facing one of the driest periods on record currently, but now also a serious attack on their livelihoods from an extreme, anti-farming organisation.

“I appreciate your assistance on this important matter. Please be advised that I have also written to the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation,the Hon Matt Kean MP and Minister for Police, the Hon Troy Grant, MP.”