‘Take it down’: Bitter fight over map
AGRICULTURE Minister David Littleproud has told an animal rights group to pull down its controversial map of Australian farms "before someone is killed".
The Aussie Farms map displays thousands of icons spread across the country, most of which represent farms or abattoirs. There are also icons for greyhound and horse racing, along with rodeos and zoos.
Clicking on an icon reveals information about the location, which can include its address and even the contact details of the farmers who live there.
Mr Littleproud has previously pressured Aussie Farms, a registered charity, to remove the map from its website.
Today he seized on a video taken by animal rights activist James Warden, and posted live on Facebook in the early hours of Monday morning, to further that argument.
Mr Warden broke into a pig farm and filmed a livestream of the conditions inside.
"I said the Aussie Farms map was an attack map for activists, and I was right," Mr Littleproud said.
"A piggery on the map has now been broken into by animal activists who have broadcast their illegal activities on Facebook.
"The safety of farming families and their children is at risk here.
"If this activist map remains online, I fear someone will be seriously hurt or worse.
"Nobody would like their family home address being broadcast to the world and especially not next to information which is wrong in many cases."
Mr Littleproud claimed Aussie Farms "know full well" the map is being used to plan "attacks" on farming businesses.
He has referred the organisation to the Charities Commission.
"They've lost sight of their cause and lost community support and must stop intimidating farming families," he said.
"Aussie Farms should stop being so reckless and pull the farm map down before someone is killed."
The Australian Farmers' Federation has also slammed the map, saying it encourages members of the public to trespass on farms.
Aussie Farms' executive director Chris Delforce told news.com.au the industry and the ministers responsible for it "need to learn that threats, intimidation and violence will get them nowhere".
"Transparency, honesty and openness is the only way forward," Mr Delforce said.
"Every activist who trespasses onto a factory farm or slaughterhouse to capture evidence of what's happening inside knows that they do so at great personal risk to their freedom and safety. But they also know that there's no other way that consumers will be able to see it for themselves.
"If Mr Littleproud believes that animal farmers are likely to kill peaceful, non-violent activists, that violence is what he should be addressing.
"Why should they have guns if they can't be trusted to not kill people with them? Why should they have thousands or even millions of animals on their property if violence is their answer to every problem? Why is it okay to blame a map that simply collates publicly available information, for the murder of someone trying to make the world a better place?
"He's moved beyond normalising violence towards animals, to normalising violence towards humans.
"What he's really doing, is trying to draw attention away from the fact that we have an enormous problem in this country with the way that we view animals and other beings who we consider inferior in some way to ourselves. Our perceived superiority does not give us the right to exploit, abuse and kill them for profit. Might does not equal right.
"It is time for an informed national conversation about what we're doing to animals. Forget the fearmongering and threats, and start asking why it's okay to send pigs into agonising gas chambers, or male chicks into grinders because they can't lay eggs.
"The 'Minister for Cruelty' knows that his arguments don't hold up to basic logic, which is why he's refused to engage us in a public debate. We understand that animal agriculture relies on consumers not knowing what happens inside farms and slaughterhouses, but we will never falter in our belief that they have a right to that information, regardless of how many threats we receive."
Mr Warden - whose video sparked Mr Littleproud's latest push to remove the map - was at the heart of another controversy earlier this month after his confrontation with West Australian dairy farmer Jason Parravicini.
Mr Warden was sitting in a car on Mr Parravicini's property. The pair had an argument, and when Mr Warden refused to leave, Mr Parravicini reached inside the vehicle, sparking a scuffle.
"You get the f*** out of my place," the farmer said.
He eventually went into his property and re-emerged with a shotgun, which he fired into the air.
The altercation was filmed by another activist who was sitting in the passenger seat.
"These farming communities are an echo chamber for this kind of violence," Mr Warden told Channel 7.
Mr Parravicini said the footage aired on Seven had cut out most of the lead-up, presumably to portray him in a negative light.
"The video has been edited by the vegans," he told Farm Online.
"It doesn't show anything that took place beforehand.
"It doesn't show me asking them numerous times to leave and stop videoing the front of my house where there are young children.
"For 20 minutes I was verbally abused.
"There's no footage showing what he did to provoke me, calling me a murderer."
The farmer claimed he didn't know the activists were still there when he fired his gun into the air, saying he "lets off a few shots" every afternoon to scare the crows away.
During his livestream yesterday morning, Mr Harden discussed the incident in more depth with the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere.
He said his cause was "inherently peaceful", and he had been threatened and "pursued by an aggressive farmer" who punched him through the car window.
News.com.au has also approached Mr Warden for comment.