Deputy PM: 'Tougher' Aussie Farms response might be needed

Deputy PM: 'Tougher' Aussie Farms response might be needed

Politics
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The Deputy PM has hinted at tougher penalties if Aussie Farms continues to incite activists to invade farms.

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Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack says 'tougher' penalties might be needed to crack down on radical animal rights groups.

The comments come after Aussie Farms Inc was stripped of its charity status by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission on Monday following months of outrage over their decision to publish a map that identified the locations of farms, processing facilities and feedlots across Australia.

Australian Associated Press is reporting that Mr McCormack said if Aussie Farms continued to incite activists to invade farms, more measures could be looked at to reign the group in.

"If these people look at ways and means of creating activism that is going to see people invading farms then yes, we might need to go a bit further and tougher," the Nationals leader told reporters on Tuesday.

Monday's decision has been welcomed by farm lobby groups and supporters, including the publisher of this masthead, Australian Community Media, which launched a campaign in January this year that called for the charity status of Aussie Farms to be revoked.

Read more: Join our campaign and protect our farmers

The National Farmers' Federation is also celebrating the news, with CEO Tony Mahar saying the Aussie Farms map implied the farms featured were "doing something illegal or unethical".

"This in itself is deeply distressing to those farmers, their families and staff, who work hard to produce food and fibre and who care genuinely for their livestock," he said.

"Many are battling one of the worst droughts in living memory. The last thing they need hanging over their head is the fear of radical extremists invading their home and business, putting at risk their wellbeing and the wellbeing of their animals."

Mr Mahar said this year the NFF and many other organisations and individuals had lodged formal complaints with the charity regulator, calling for an investigation into the conduct of Aussie Farms and for their charity status to be revoked.

"The NFF believes that the conduct of Aussie Farms is completely inconsistent with the standards required of a registered charity, and should not attract generous tax concessions.

"This decision is very much welcomed by the NFF and its members," Mr Mahar said.

Aussie Farms reacts, appeal to be lodged

Melbourne-based animal activist Christopher Delforce said Aussie Farms had not been notified of the decision.

"We have received no contact from the ACNC around this," he said.

"It seems extremely suspicious that an animal agriculture industry publication would be notified of such a thing before us.

"If it is indeed the case we will of course be appealing it, on the basis that it was clearly not a decision made independently by the ACNC, but instead under the heavy influence of the very industry our organisation has exposed extreme and at times illegal cruelty within, which I believe warrants a review of the ACNC's ability to operate independently," he said

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