AAP FactCheck

Restoring confidence in public statements by independently testing and verifying the facts

Does Greens leader Richard Di Natale think it's OK for animal rights protesters to invade farms?

By Louise Evans and James Lane

The Statement

“Richard Di Natale thinks it's OK for people to invade farms.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison. May 6, 2019.

The Analysis

Prime Minister Scott Morrison accused Greens leader Richard Di Natale of siding with animal rights’ activists who have staged a series of nationwide demonstrations and farm and abattoir break-ins resulting in protesters being arrested and charged. [1]

AAP FactCheck examined the prime minister’s claim that Senator Di Natale “thinks it’s ok” for protesters to break the law and invade farms and abattoirs.

The protests began late last year and were part of a national campaign against animal cruelty in farms, abattoirs and feedlots. Animal rights activists allegedly entered abattoirs and dairy, pig and poultry farms without permission. The activists claim Australia needs to come to terms with the cruelty involved in the meat and dairy industries. Many protesters were charged after farmers made formal complaints about the break-ins. [2]

The protests across Victoria, NSW, Tasmania and Queensland marked the one-year anniversary of the release of a feature-length documentary Dominion, which investigated factory farming in Australia. [3]

Dominion is a feature-length documentary that used drones, hidden and handheld cameras to film confronting footage from Australian farms, saleyards, and abattoirs. [4]

The Greens "protecting animals” policy states the party is committed to “ending animal cruelty”.

"Ending intensive factory farming across Australia” is listed as an election priority. The Greens say they will achieve this by working “with industry, farming and union stakeholders to include appropriate industry adjustment measures to ensure a best practice transition". [5]

In his first press conference after becoming Greens leader in 2015 Senator Di Natale said "I'm not an ideologue". He said he’d never chained himself to a bulldozer or broken a police line. "Your selection criteria for being a [Greens] MP is pretty narrow if it requires you to be arrested,” he said. [6]

West Australian Greens senator Rachel Siewert distanced her party from the animal activists in April saying the Greens were “in no way” affiliated with the groups involved in the protests and break-ins. “We are a party of peace and non-violence, and when people overstep those principles of peaceful protest, for example entering people’s home, they should have to face the consequences,” Senator Siewert said. [7]

Senator Di Natale was asked about animal activists invading farms at the launch of the Greens’ jobs policy in Perth on April 16. He said the Greens did not support breaking the law.

“If people break the law then clearly they need to face the consequences of those actions.” [8]

Based on this evidence AAP FactCheck finds the PM’s claim that Senator Di Natale “thinks it's OK for people to invade farms” is false.

The Verdict

  • False - The checkable claim is false.

The References

1. ‘Federal election 2019: Scott Morrison defends preference deal with Clive Palmer's United Australia Party’, by James Elton. ABC 7:30. May 7, 2019: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-06/federal-election-pm-scott-morrison-clive-palmer-preference-deal/11084224

2. ‘Queensland Police charge 11 vegans with trespassing after farm protest’, by Natalie Wolfe. News.com.au. April 17, 2019: https://www.news.com.au/finance/work/at-work/queensland-police-charge-11-vegans-with-trespassing-after-farm-protest/news-story/758bb516d8b8067b7bef519d06d6cfbc

3. ‘After two hours of CBD chaos, police remove vegan protesters’, by Zach Hope and Simone Fox Koob. The Age. April 8, 2019: https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/vegan-protest-causes-chaos-in-melbourne-cbd-20190408-p51bui.html

4. ‘Dominion 'animal cruelty' documentary angers farmers’, by Joely Mitchell. Farm On Line National. April 5, 2018: https://www.farmonline.com.au/story/5324513/industry-braces-for-documentary-backlash-video/

5. 'Green Party Platform. Protecting Animals' Greens Party: https://greens.org.au/platform/environment#animals

6. ‘The new green: Richard Di Natale on policies, priorities and life on the farm’, by Stephanie Wood. Sydney Morning Herald. June 19, 2015: https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/the-new-green-richard-di-natale-on-policies-priorities-and-life-on-the-farm-20150609-ghjs88.html

7. ‘Don’t give them oxygen: Alannah MacTiernan blasts vegan activists over protests’, Midwest Times. April 10, 2019: https://thewest.com.au/news/midwest-times/alannah-mactiernan-blasts-vegan-activists-over-protests-ng-b881162086z

8. ‘Greens Senator Jordan Steele-John wants WA to move from coal, gas to renewables’, by Nick Butterly. The West Australian. April 17, 2019: https://thewest.com.au/politics/federal-politics/greens-senator-jordan-steele-john-wants-wa-to-move-from-coal-gas-to-renewables-ng-b881170765z

  • First published May 8, 2019 16:39 AEST