Greens MLC Tammy Franks says the Surveillance Devices Bill 2015 is an ‘ag-gag’ bill by another name with the potential to gag animal advocates, employees, whistleblowers and the media on issues of animal cruelty – a view supported by the Law Society in its submission, released in recent days.
“This week The Law Society’s submission to the Surveillance Devices Bill has belled the cat,” Ms Franks said.
“This is an ag-gag bill, despite the Attorney-General’s repeated claims it is not.
“The Law Society has declared this Bill an ag-gag bill and stated that it has been unable to find any laws like it in any of the States or Territories in Australia, or in New Zealand, Canada or the United Kingdom.
“It is essential that animal welfare groups are able to expose cruelty, such as live baiting in the greyhound racing industry, without those undercover investigators who are taking the footage having to first prove ‘public interest’ in the courts.
“That is why the Greens share the view of groups including Voiceless, the RSPCA and Free TV Australia in calling for the retention of the existing legislation, which works perfectly well.
“The Weatherill Government has repeatedly laid claim to standing against animal cruelty, yet with this Bill they will silence those voices which expose that cruelty,” she concluded.
‘Ag-gag’ is a term used to describe legislation that attempts to gag public awareness of animal welfare and environmental protection in agribusiness by forbidding the act of undercover filming or photography of activity without the consent of the owner.
The Greens have introduced a general public interest amendment that would allow for the recording and publication of material by any party where this material is in the public interest without the need to first obtain a court order.