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Call for action on animal activists

Livestock producers are demanding the Victorian Government implements its election promise to curb animal activists’ attacks on farms, VFF livestock president Ian Feldtmann says.

June 17, 2014 11:07pm

Peter Walsh


Livestock producers are demanding the Victorian Government implements its election promise to curb animal activists’ attacks on farms, VFF livestock president Ian Feldtmann says.

During the 2010 Victorian election campaign the Coalition promised to ‘‘ensure that adequate legislation exists to protect all food producers from unreasonable attacks by extremist animal rights lobbyists’’.

Mr Feldtmann said the VFF had twice written to Victorian Attorney General Robert Clark requesting the government deliver on its 2010 election promise.

‘‘All we’ve had so far is ‘reassurances’ that action is being taken,’’ Mr Feldtmann said.

‘‘And I notice this week Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said it’s ‘a work in progress’.

‘‘But here we are, with just 18 sitting days left until the 2014 state election and there’s no legislation on the table. We need to see the detail.’’

Mr Feldtmann said farmers had taken action in the past against animal activists, but it had cost them years in the courts and vast sums in legal fees.

‘‘No-one should doubt farmers’ determination to make animal activists accountable for their actions,’’ he said. ‘‘You only have to look at our efforts in pursuing the Hahnheuser case.’’

In 2003 animal activist Ralph Hahnheuser delayed a shipment of live sheep from Portland to the Middle East by contaminating their feed and water with shredded ham.

The VFF lodged an Australian Farmers’ Fighting Fund application to pursue Hahnheuser through the courts, which involved an unsuccessful trial in the Federal Court, a subsequent successful appeal to the full Federal Court, and a successful re-trial in which Hahnheuser was ordered to pay damages and costs.

Ultimately Hahnheuser became bankrupt upon filing his own debtor’s petition on March 6 this year, 11 years after contaminating the feedlot.

‘‘It was a landmark case, but cost us dearly in time and money,’’ Mr Feldtmann said.

‘‘It’s the very reason we need stronger state and federal legislation to protect us against activists.’’

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