Strengthening Australian farmers’ privacy
THE Coalition Government has brought the Aussie Farms website under the Privacy Act, exposing it to potential penalties of more than $400,000 if it breaches the Act as of April 6.
The change to the Act came as vegan activists launched a co-ordinated national attack on meat processors and farmers on at the start of April.
Attorney-General Christian Porter said that the activities of Aussie Farms Incorporated created an unacceptable risk to hardworking farming communities and producers.
“The company publishes information about Australian farmers and agricultural producers including their names and addresses, exposing them to potential trespass, biosecurity hazards, and reputational damage,” the Attorney- General said.
“Listing this activist group as an organisation under the Privacy Act, now means that the company will have to abide by the provisions of the Act.”
Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said that he had repeatedly asked Aussie Farms to take the website down before someone was hurt or worse, but the group behind the website refused.
“The farming families who grow our food deserve to be able to do so without fear of invasion on their property and harm to their children.
“The Aussie Farms website is intended to be an attack map for activists, and it is already working as one.
“The fact Aussie Farms refused to take the website down when invasions began happening on farms displayed on their map shows they intend for it to be used as an attack map for activists.
“Aussie Farms will now be required to comply with the Privacy Act, which includes laws against the misuse of personal information with the maximum penalty for an offence under the Privacy Act being $420,000.”
Minister Littleproud also called on state governments to beef up trespass laws to provide real penalties for trespass, and to make publicly state that they expect the police will uphold these laws.
The Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner previously found that Aussie Farms Incorporated (which is registered with the Australian Charities and Not for profits Commission) was exempt from the Privacy Act because its annual turnover was less than $3 million.