News & Media > Media Releases and Statements > Animal activists defy government's 'ag gag' bill with prominent billboard in Melbourne

Animal activists defy government's 'ag gag' bill with prominent billboard in Melbourne

Last updated Thu 31 Oct 2019, 1:35pm

Makers of the controversial Aussie Farms map and Dominion documentary have laid down a public challenge to the government on its decision to bring in ‘draconian’ federal and state laws: “The government has changed the law to stop you from seeing this. So we put it on a billboard.”

This is the message displayed on a prominent billboard on the Westgate Freeway in South Melbourne en route to the city, by animal rights charity Aussie Farms.

Underneath the text is the URL: WATCHDOMINION.COM, urging people to watch the documentary Dominion – a damning expose of the cruel and violent treatment of animals in factory farms, slaughterhouses, and the fashion and entertainment industries in Australia – which recently surpassed 1 million views.

Dominion, which was made by Aussie Farms’ founder Chris Delforce in 2018, hit the headlines in April this year after activists brought the city of Melbourne to a standstill in protest against animal cruelty.

Shortly after the protests, Aussie Farms’ controversial Farm Transparency Map website listing the addresses of intensive animal farms across the country came under renewed attention from the Morrison government, which responded with a federal ‘ag gag’ bill targeting anyone who publishes footage, information or other material relating to factory farms and slaughterhouses, with jail terms of up to five years.

According to Delforce, the wording of the new legislation is intentionally vague enough that it could be used to imprison anyone who even shares footage of legal, industry-standard practices such as those exposed in Dominion, including journalists.

“The clear purpose of this new law is to bolster the secrecy that the animal agriculture industry has always relied on, threatening anyone who would seek to expose it,” Delforce says. “It’s effectively saying that Australian consumers, who are by and large strongly opposed to animal cruelty, have no right to know that they’re paying for it or to make informed choices, instead demanding that they listen only to the industry’s marketing campaigns promising happy animals and ‘humane’ slaughtering.”

Delforce slammed the ‘draconian’ laws as a serious threat to democracy and potential press freedom. “The Morrison government’s attacks on the rights of Australians to be educated about these issues must be challenged, and this industry must be held accountable and made transparent,” he says. “We hope this billboard sends a clear message to the industry and its political allies that intimidation and draconian laws will get them nowhere, and a clear message to consumers that they are being lied to.”

The billboard was installed on Wednesday 30 October, in a high-traffic area at 60 Moray St, South Melbourne, on the Westgate Freeway in the direction of the city, initially for a period of one month. An additional two digital billboards are planned to run for a week in Carrum Downs and Warrnambool.

Images of the billboard artwork, the billboard displayed in situ, and of Chris Delforce are available here:

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