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LIV calls for CCTV in slaughterhouses

LIV calls for CCTV in slaughterhouses

By Karin Derkley

Civil Rights 

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Proposed laws that impose mandatory sentences on those wanting to expose animal cruelty are unnecessary and impinge on the public's right to know about unconscionable conduct, LIV Criminal Law Section co-chair Mel Walker told the state parliament’s Inquiry into the Impact of Animal Activism this week.

Ms Walker was speaking on a 60-page submission by the LIV to the Legislative Council's Economy and Infrastructure Standing Committee.

One of the LIV's recommendations was for CCTV to be installed in slaughterhouses as a way of increasing transparency and maintaining public confidence in the animal farming sector.

The committee is hearing responses to the Crimes Amendment (Trespass) Bill 2019 that proposes mandatory sentences for those found to be trespassing on or damaging an agricultural property, releasing an animal from captivity or harassing a person involved in an animal activity.

Ms Walker said “the LIV acknowledges that the activities of activists trespassing and undertaking certain practices can cause distress to members of the community and interfere with production and potential damage to property”.

The LIV does not condone any criminal activity, she told the inquiry. “In fact, its members are made up of members of public prosecutions, state lawyers, police and police prosecution.”

However, laws already exist that criminalise the conduct of those who commit offences of trespass, damage property or incite, she said. "Legislation already provides a number of remedies in cases where the intention was to cause damage or injury."

To create specific criminal laws along the lines proposed by the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party could also act as a disincentive to any person from acting in the public interest in future, she said.

It was as a result of information or footage supplied to them by activists that inspectors had invoked their powers under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to enter premises and seize distressed animals, Ms Walker pointed out.

Improving transparency was the single most effective means of reducing the need and motivation for trespassing and ainimal activism, she said.

In its submission, the LIV has recommended a uniform national farm animal welfare standard that would be overseen and implemented by a statutory agency. It has also recommended CCTV systems be installed in all areas where animals are slaughtered as a way of upholding the reputation of the agricultural industry and removing motivation for animal activists to trespass.

Contrary to a recent media report, the LIV is not calling for CCTV to be installed on all farm properties.

CCTV is already used in abattoirs in England, Ms Walker pointed out, and such a monitoring system is analogous to Victoria Police's use of body worn cameras and CCTV used in police stations and prisons.

A transparent system such as this would provide a way to protect the reputation and livelihoods of those working in primary production as well as the interests of the animals they work with, Ms Walker said.

"It is the overall position of the LIV that it would be more worthwhile removing and directly addressing the motives that drive this type of action – trespassing – being a lack of transparency and the capacity to undertake and commit significant acts of cruelty and unconscionable conduct under the cover of opacity.”


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