A Nationals Pollie Has Gone After “Keyboard Warriors” While Pushing To Jail Vegan Activists

National Party senator and Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie has fired a shot at the “keyboard warriors” she believes are responsible for a recent string of farm protests across Australia, as parliament considers a harsh new bill which would see anyone who incites farm protests online sentenced to a year behind bars.

Taking to Facebook this morning, the Victorian senator commented on a Weekly Times article about primary producers forming an “activist action plan” to combat the demonstrations.

“The National Party of Australia backs our farmers,” McKenzie said.

“Our Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019 is in addition to state and territory laws that deal with trespass. Our tough new penalties will mean keyboard warriors who use a carriage service to incite trespass against our family farmers, risk serious jail time.”

The bill, which passed the House of Representatives early this month and will likely be debated in the Senate in September, calls for the creation of two new offences to deter activists from interfering with Aussie agriculturalists.

The first amendment would make it illegal to use a carriage service – think email, a platform like Facebook, or an app like Messenger – to disseminate any content with the goal of sparking a protest on farming land. If the bill passes, it’s feasible that sharing undercover footage from an abattoir could soon land you a year behind bars.

While the bill contains an exemption for journalists and whistleblowers, Charles Sturt University criminal justice lecturer Piero Moraro has expressed concerns the proposed law is a needless overreach.

The second amendment would make it a crime to encourage the damage or theft of farming property online. If the bill passes, calling for others to kidnap lambs, as three animal rights protesters did in Queensland earlier this year, could equate to a five-year prison sentence.

The bill was introduced amid a series of high-profile animal rights protests at farms across the nation, in addition to a city-stopping demonstration against the Australian livestock industry in Melbourne.

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While animal rights advocates want more transparency in an industry they claim is poorly regulated and endlessly brutal, McKenzie and Attorney-General Christian Porter released a statement in July saying “the laws necessary to protect farmers and their businesses”.

McKenzie’s latest statement comes during a period of anti-protest sentiment across Aussie jurisdictions. Last week, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced announced new powers for police who suspect protesters of possessing locking devices which allegedly threaten the safety of those sent to remove ’em.

All in all, it seems like a pretty stressful time for anyone drawing attention to industrial-scale animal cruelty and the erosion of the climate. Watch this space for the Senate’s action on the new farm protest bill.