Farmer advocates have called for an end to decades of “bullying and harassment” at the hands of animal rights activists, with allegations surfacing of protesters bugging industry members’ homes.
Australian Pork chief executive Margo Andrae said protesters had dressed up as tradesmen in order to gain access to her office and planted recording devices.
Speaking at senate estimates on Thursday, Ms Andrae said protesters were “pretending to be plumbers … to get access to my office while they hide in the toilets”.
“They have taken photos of my team celebrating International Women’s Day, put it on separate social media and called them murderers,” she said.
“That is not acceptable.”
Speaking on Today on Friday, the chief executive said farmers needed to have more of a “voice” in debates about best practices in agriculture and animal rights.
Today host Karl Stefanovic said he had been moved by Ms Andrae’s testimony on Thursday, saying it was “such an important story”.
“We see dairy farmers targeted, we see cattle, meat producers targeted, pointedly, we are seeing this now with you – this is sector-wide and it needs to stop,” he said.
Ms Andrae said it was time for the community to “stand up and protect Australian farmers”.
“These people do not stop,” she said.
“People have a choice on what they eat, the lifestyles they live, all of those sorts of things. Everyone is entitled to a voice, but this has crossed a line.
“This is going into bullying and harassment.”
Ms Andrae said many farmers no longer felt safe walking to sheds on their property and their right to privacy had been repeatedly violated.
Some are reportedly using biosecurity measures to protect their farms, with many “looking at their own monitoring devices” to protect themselves and their teams from trespassers.
“We need Australians to actually back our agriculture industries,” Ms Andrea said.
“We are highly regulated, we operate under very strict rules, independent audits, we go above and beyond.
“We have a right here in Australia to feel safe and our farmers don’t feel safe.”
Eight Extinction Rebellion protesters were apprehended by police in Melbourne’s CBD on Thursday after blocking traffic and gluing themselves and posters to roads and buildings.
The group of around 100 protesters took over the intersection of Latrobe St and Queen St at around 8am, blocking traffic for 20 minutes, before moving down Latrobe St.
“Six people (aged 64 to 70) will be charged on summons and two will be issued with infringement notices following the planned protest activity across the CBD,” a police spokesperson said.
Two others received infringement notices for obstructing a roadway.