Nobody wishes to see a dead cat I’m sure, but it is safe to assume that Tony Abbott was one happy camper to see the dead cat bounce in one of the recent opinion polls.

That bounce in the polls has rattled the chains of those previously silenced within the Coalition over their desires to promote our “right to be a bigot”.

That’s right folks, the “right to offend” and racially vilify debate is back again and once again MP’s like Cory Bernardi are talking about altering section 18C of the discrimination act. The plan is to amend the act so that journalists and commentators would have the right to say whatever they like even if it is offensive to individuals or whole sections of the community. In short the plan is for an open license for racism.

The justification for this insanity is that there should be complete freedom of speech and also the ultimate freedom of the press. A sentiment that at a quick glance may look both reasonable and logical, however put under any kind of scrutiny the cracks soon start to appear.

Those skeptical of the Coalitions motivations regarding freedom of the press might point to the censorship of media related to asylum seekers. This would include the “incidents at sea” reasons for information censorship and the allegations regarding the mistreatment of those wallowing in misery in detention centres.

There is however another example of censorship that is being debated in Senate currently however it has not had the same level of exposure as the asylum seeker issues. In many ways however it is even more disturbing in that it seeks to shut down the publishing and broadcasting of what is existing material, rather than preventing material from becoming available such as in the case of refugee arrivals.

The proposed changes to laws being currently debated are known as Ag-gag laws and they are a form of censorship designed to protect the poor struggling farmer who only seeks to partake in a bit of animal cruelty.

The Ag-gag laws if passed would involve media agencies receiving harsh and heavy penalties that would include severe fines and the possibility if jail terms should they choose to publish or broadcast footage or material exposed via covert operations or surveillance.

The aim of these laws is not to enforce laws regarding animal welfare and cruelty, instead it seeks to shut down the exposure of those committing criminal acts.

ag gag

Image via Shellethics

Examples of footage that would not have made it to the public or possible seen fines and jail time passed down to media for its exposure are the 4 Corners episode that exposed the cruelty within the greyhound racing industry, the surveillance footage from piggeries and virtually every puppy factory video or photograph you have seen.

In fact under this bill the recent campaign you may have seen on TV regarding puppy factories and pet purchases could see management of Animals Australia, as well as the management of any station that broadcasts the commercial jailed for use of footage obtained by covert means.

In fact quite a substantial amount of what is published on this site would see yours truly thinking twice before picking up the soap in the prison shower block if this bill was passed.

As we have seen by the reaction to the recent horrific image of an Australian cow about to have its head bashed in with a sledgehammer in a Vietnamese abattoir animal welfare is something that the public are passionate about. Given this outcry politicians should be aware that the public are looking for solutions to end the cruelty not new ways of concealing it.

The image that shocked the nation

The image that shocked the nation


Some have claimed that a blow with a sledgehammer is humane and quick. Those who think that way should watch the below video from Brazil, those who do think it’s cruel may wish to spare themselves the viewing. You will notice in that about 15 seconds into the video the first cow after several blows actually raises its head and looks at its executioner as if to plead for its life.

The issue that sections of the current government have with this type of evidence of cruelty is that the evidence is gathered illegally, predominantly via trespass. It would appear that some within the Coalition feel the trespass laws being violated carries a far greater weight than wholesale animal cruelty, which is of course also illegal.

Those who shoot footage that highlight these horrific and illegal acts of cruelty would love footage to see the light of day from other sources so they don’t feel the need to risk their own safety or arrest, however this is not possible. The reason that this footage can only be obtained via covert means is that not one body has the legal authority to carry out surveillance to uncover these hideous crimes, not the police nor the RSPCA.

Until government take steps to increase the powers of the RSPCA and give them similar investigatory powers to police, we are forced to rely on those willing to risk stepping outside the law in order to see these people brought to justice. Let’s not also forget, these are not poor farmers, breeders, or trainers struggling to make a living as some would have you believe, these are people guilty of criminal behavior. Most are also repeat offending criminals who are committing the criminal acts of animal cruelty.

As a society we would not expect the police force to be able detect perpetrators of child abuse or organized crime without the powers of surveillance and the rights to enter and search premises with a warrant. However government seems to expect the RSPCA to be able to catch and prosecute animal abusers while not giving them any powers to be able to gain evidence for a successful prosecution. Time and time again we see these criminals given pitiful fines for minor offences and walk free on cruelty charges due to the inability to legally gather evidence.

The Ag-gag bill being debated would make the gathering of evidence even more difficult than it currently is. Ag-gag legislation seeks to further protect those criminals who are guilty of acts of animal cruelty. Ag-gag legislation does absolutely nothing to protect the public, and only acts to limit the public’s access to information.

One aspect I find truly alarming is that Ag-gag is nothing short of media censorship, and it is legislation being pushed by a Coalition government that wants to say it is looking to expand on the freedoms of the press through its debate on section 18C of the discrimination act.

Ag-gag legislation does nothing at all to prevent the criminal act of animal cruelty, it only seeks to ensure we can’t prosecute it, it is almost like a government sponsored protection racket for what many see as organised crime. While some may see that as a bridge too far it is worth remembering that animal cruelty is indeed a crime and the industries committing these crimes, such as those exposed greyhound racing industry are certainly organised.

It would appear that the Coalition have their plan to tackle animal cruelty on display through this debate and it is a relatively simple plan. Ignore the abuse and shoot the messenger. once again targeting the whistleblower.

Are any of us really surprised?


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7 thoughts on “Voice Of The Voiceless – The latest Coalition attempt to censor the press

  1. Well they disallow reporting from the refugee prisons, they disallow reportage from the army from any war zone until it is censored and cleaned up to show our heroism and other stuff so why not animal cruelty as well.

    I don’t eat cow or sheep since I grew up on a farm seeing them being killed, I don’t like animals in cages so I won’t go to the zoo, I don’t like keeping pets because it is ownership of a sentient being that I find repulsive and I can’t think really of any good reason to be cruel to any sentient creature be it a small frog or a human being.
    It took Al Jazeera to do a report on the horrific camel slaughter going on in the middle of our country and the horrendous toll on cattle after the export trade was suddenly halted and the animals starved to death in their tens of thousands.

  2. I don’t think the homophobic comment was called for Peter. It detracted from an otherwise gritty story.

  3. “In fact quite a substantial amount of what is published on this site would see yours truly thinking twice before picking up the soap in the prison shower block if this bill was passed.”

    In case you were wondering.

  4. I don’t see it is homophobic, I’m probably one of the least homophobic people you’d come across, but I take your point

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