Jordan Rivkin

Australian ag-gag laws will take us to a new “in-humanitarian” low

ag gag laws
Image: AAP/Animals Australia


Have you even heard the term?

Many potentially wont have.

Last week in Sydney, I attended the 2014 Voiceless Animal Law Lecture Series, which this year explores the rise of infamous “ag-gag” laws – uber-Draconian measures that seek to criminalise the exposure of industrialised animal cruelty by activists.

Or “eco-terrorists”, as the US government now refers to them.

These Orwellian edicts are a sign of the US agriculture industry’s growing financial and political might. More worrying is the fact that several Australian politicians are advocating the introduction of such measures here.

In February this year, activists in the US released abhorrent footage of cows being physically and sexually abused by workers on a dairy farm in Idaho. In response, the state legislature didn’t toughen animal cruelty laws. Instead, it passed a law making it a crime for anyone to covertly film inside agricultural facilities.

And these laws aren’t limited to covert surveillance operations conducted on site. The first ag-gag prosecution saw a 25-year-old Utah woman charged for filming a sick cow being pushed by a bulldozer outside a slaughterhouse…all while she was standing on public property!

The motivation behind the industry’s push for such laws is clear. Put simply, its profits depend upon consumers remaining in the dark, because when consumers see what goes on inside factory farms, they respond by buying less meat and dairy.

Whether it be commercial agricultural operations, Wall St, NSW politics, or Manus Island, transparency is essential. It’s not just a deterrent to corruption and other legal infringements, it also holds national and industry leaders accountable and bolsters public confidence. If we seek to stifle such transparency, and gag or criminalise those who oppose us, we walk a very slippery slope, jeopardising the very democratic ideals we hold so dear.

And yet, NSW Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson has alarmingly described undercover animal activists as being “akin to terrorists”.

I must confess that I’ve never heard of a terrorist who kills no one and seeks only to document illegal activities so as to hold an industry accountable and keep the public informed.

However, if that’s the case, I can only hope to be such a “terrorist” one day.


Jordan Rivkin

Jordan Rivkin is a freelance writer, psychology student and animal-welfare advocate. After nearly two decades in the stock market, he left to complete his 4th year honours in psychology. His main interests are social justice and mental health issues, and he teaches ethics to primary school children in his spare time.

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  1. HW said:

    I have only one word to say about this. EVIL! How as humans can we even justify this going on. Thank you Jordan for brining awareness.

  2. Jordan Rivkin said:

    Not yet in Australia, but there will be.

  3. thebigsmoke said:

    I will pass on your question to the writer and hopefully he might know of something.PB

  4. Tuggles said:

    Are there any petitions to sign?

  5. Jordan Rivkin said:

    Thanks Rainer, I appreciate the support! And another great documentary is Forks Over Knives.

  6. Jordan Rivkin said:

    Thanks Jay, much appreciated. At this stage, while these laws are yet to make their way to Australia, there isn’t much direct action to take. But should their advocates rise in number, and specific laws be proposed, contacting your federal/state MP and letting them know you’re outraged would be a good place to start.

  7. Jordan Rivkin said:

    I couldn’t agree with you more Elise.

  8. Elise Bottle said:

    Isn’t the US supposed to have a little thing called ‘free speech’? Oh wait, that only counts if you’re a homophobic Fox News anchor…

  9. Jay said:

    Great post Jordan. It’s a very frustrating situation. As a reader it would be helpful if you could provide some direction as to what action I can take if I disagree with such “ag-gag” laws e.g. a current public campaign or petition at the very least. Keep up the good work!

  10. Rainer the cabbie said:

    If you ever decide to become a terrorist like that let me know and I’ll carry the camera gear for you.

    In the meantime, anyone wanting to inform themselves a bit further on the subject of mass production and what ends up on your supermarket shelf watch the brilliant documentary “Food inc”.

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