Farmers ‘vote too’

Jacinta CantatoreHarvey-Waroona Reporter
A screenshot of the amount of farms listed in the greater South West of the state.
Camera IconA screenshot of the amount of farms listed in the greater South West of the state. Credit: Aussie Farms Inc (map.aussiefarms.org.au)

South West farmers say their vote at the May 18 Federal election will go to the party offering the best protection from “militant vegan terrorists”.

Farmers, processors and transport operators were thrown into high alert last week as animal activists ramped up protests around the country.

As farmers took precautions, and the election was called, the four candidates for Forrest weighed in on the debate.

One Harvey farmer, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of being targeted, believes safety is a key election issue and would guide her own vote at the polls.

“The backlash from farmers and from the general public, is going to be huge,” she said.

“Politicians need to remember that farmers vote.”

Brunswick transport operator Mark Talbot voiced concerns about the lack of protection for farmers and related industries.

He and other farmers, transport companies and processing operators were told to be on high alert by peak industry bodies last week.

“I tell my drivers to be careful every time they go out, but this time I was telling them to be safe because of militant vegan terrorists,” he said.

He said if politicians could provide protection, they would have his vote.

Mr Talbot said he had been heartened by the Liberals and Nationals backing farmers, pointing to Forrest MHR Nola Marino’s continued support as well as Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s vow to crack down on activists trespassing on farms.

“He is backing the rural community 150 per cent,” Mr Talbot said.

Mrs Marino highlighted the biosecurity risks involved with activist activity on farms.

“As a farmer myself, I completely understand the fear farmers are feeling over increased activist activity,” she said.

“We have seen with Aussie Farms the malicious use of personal information, including farmers’ names, addresses and workplaces, designed specifically to encourage others to trespass on properties and damage businesses.”

She said a re-elected Morrison Government would introduce laws specifically designed to protect Australian farmers, with penalties of up to 12 months prison for anyone publicly disclosing personal details with the intention of inciting trespass on agricultural land.

The laws would also apply to other primary producers such as abattoirs.

While Greens candidate Nerilee Boshammer made it clear her party had no connection to Aussie Farms Inc, she said the protests were a sign of growing animal welfare concerns.

“If the government wants to avoid these protests in future, it should consider legislation that addresses dodgy operators and boosts animal welfare standards to meet community concerns, while protecting the privacy of farming families that are doing the right thing,” Ms Boshammer said.

Labor candidate Wayne Sanford believed the government had “failed to show any leadership on animal welfare”, but said families should always feel safe in their own homes.

“Labor does not condone illegal or irresponsible activism which threatens the livelihood of our farming businesses which overwhelmingly do the right thing on the animal welfare front,” Mr Sanford said.

United Australia Party candidate Dale Bromley said his party was committed to farmers and claimed both Liberal and Labor governments had done little to support farmers.

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