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Privacy changes protect farmers & disrupt radical extremists' business model

5 April 2019

Extremist group Aussie Farms Incorporated will, from tomorrow be compelled to comply with the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988.

In January, the group published the addresses of more than 3000 farm and farm-related businesses on a map designed to incite people to enter the identified premises without authorisation to obtain covert footage.

Immediately, the National Farmers' Federation called on Attorney General Christian Porter to review the rationale as to why Aussie Farms wasn't required to comply with the Privacy Act.

"Currently, the Principles of the Privacy Act 1988, exempt businesses with a turnover of less than $3 million from complying with the Act," NFF CEO Tony Mahar said.

From tomorrow this will be changed with the Attorney General announcing Aussie Farms Incorporated will be prescribed as an 'Organisation' under the Privacy Act. The prescription will require Aussie Farms to act in accordance with the Privacy Act, regardless of its annual turnover.

"Effectively, the moves allows the Information and Privacy Commissioner to investigate, either in response to a complaint or on her own initiative, whether Aussie Farms Incorporated has breached the Privacy Act. Importantly, it exposes the radical group to potential penalties of more than $400,000 if it is found to be in breach of the Act."

The change comes ahead of apparent, potentially wide-spread, intrusive and dangerous actions of animal extremists this Monday, 8 April.

"Since January we have seen a disturbing increase in farm invasions, including last weekend where 100 extremists converged, uninvited, on a South Queensland feedlot.

"Common sense would directly link this to the Aussie Farms map.

"Changes relating to the Privacy Act that prevent the publishing of the address details for purposes such as that of Aussie Farms, are therefore very much welcomed."

Mr Mahar said farm businesses were also family homes, often where young children resided.

"It is completely unjust that through the publishing of their addresses, farmers and their family's should be at the mercy of these radical extremists, who don't believe in pets or guide dogs and who are certainly ignorant to how modern farms operate.

"Australian farmers operate pursuant to the world's highest standards, including animal welfare standards. Farmers are animal lovers – it would be a hard job to do if they weren't.

"We take very serious our role of growing food and fibre in a way that meets community's expectations.

"Where these expectations aren't met, we are committed to doing better."

Mr Mahar said Australian farmers were proud of what they did and welcomed a conversation with those who'd like to learn more.

"It disappointing that some radical extremists think they have to and have the right to, enter our farms secretly, at times under the cover of darkness and force their views onto others in the community. It's completely unreasonable and we won't stand by and let it happen.

"We encourage these people, and other Australians, to get in touch via the appropriate channels and we'll gladly open our gates and doors."

Mr Mahar thanked Attorney General Porter for swiftly responding to the NFF's demands and more importantly, taking action to ensure radical groups such as Aussie Farms can no longer publish the private details of farmers for sinister, likely unlawful purposes.

"We now call on State governments to tighten their trespass laws and the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission to strip Aussie Farms Incorporated of its charity status."

Media Enquiries: Laureta Wallace
P: 0408 448 250
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