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A new law proposed by Senator Chris Back would mete out harsher penalties to those who expose cruelty — than to those who perpetrate it.

On the surface, the ‘Criminal Code Amendment (Animal Protection) Bill 2015’ masks itself as ‘animal welfare’ legislation by requiring those who document cruelty to report it 'as soon as practicable'.

But in reality, the bill would criminalise in-depth investigations that are responsible for exposing industry-wide cruelty. Under threat of imprisonment, it would force investigators to surrender the first piece of evidence obtained — effectively tipping off industry and shutting down the investigation.

In this way, the reporting requirements outlined in this bill could lead to systemic cruelty being characterised as ‘isolated’ — allowing for the prosecution of an individual while protecting entire industries that are suspected of harbouring widespread illegal cruelty.

Were this law in place, the groundbreaking Animals Australia / Animal Liberation Qld investigations that exposed systemic live baiting in the greyhound racing industry would never have seen the light of day. Instead, criminal activity would go further underground. Allegations of routine abuse would be brushed aside as ‘isolated’ — again. The public would be kept in the dark. The industry-wide shake up would never have happened. Dozens of suspended trainers would still be live baiting. And countless animals would continue to be tortured on ‘live lures’.

The push for 'ag-gag' laws in Australia comes at a time they’re being questioned in the U.S — a Federal court in Idaho has become the latest to overturn ag-gag laws, paving the way for other states to follow.

Chris Back’s backwards bill has already been condemned by every major animal protection organisation and forward-thinking politician in the country. You can add your voice to the growing calls to shut down dangerous ‘ag gag’ laws.

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