TRANSCRIPT - Interview – ABC Country Hour with David Claughton

E&OE

Subjects: Removing charity status of animal rights activists

Interviewer:

What are your concerns about the map (published on the internet by animal rights activists)?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

Farmers’ details are being placed on the internet to try and identify operations and essentially I think the aim is to ban farming. It’s un-charitable, it’s un-Australian. Why should farmers have their details published on a map that, you know, is just primarily designed to get activists to be doing things that they shouldn’t be doing against our farmers? And I mean you know, most Australian farms, they’re family owned and operated. In many cases they’ve been in the same family for generations. They do a power of good. They grow food, they grow fibre and it just annoys me that you get these groups that just want to stop the raising of cattle and sheep and other animals and they (interruption).

Interviewer:

What you call the vegan agenda?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

Well it is. Essentially it pretty much is. And we saw that incident in the middle of Sydney the other day where they barbequed a fake dog. This is PETA. I mean ‘really?’ Do we need this sort of nonsense? Do we need this sort of rubbish? And the problem is many of these organisations operate as a charity and calling an organisation a charity is sacrosanct in Australia so it has to be for charitable purposes which are for the public’s benefit, not engaging in promoting activities that in some cases are illegal and in other cases are quite frankly just stopping our farmers doing the great job that they do.

Interviewer:

Is that grounds to remove them or deregister them?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

I believe it is. I absolutely believe it is. And some of them have tax deductable status and others are just allowed to call themselves a charity. But one way or the other they are collecting money, in many cases from unsuspecting people, and by doing that, and by collecting money, they are also harvesting email addresses and contact details and the like which they then use to disseminate their propaganda.

Interviewer:

You’ve attacked them quite strongly in your press release, in your statement, you’ve said ‘they’ve probably never done a hard day’s work (interruption) …..

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

That’s true.

Interviewer:

……operating in secrecy, should be ashamed’ aren’t they just acting on their beliefs and exercising free speech?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

Well you know free speech is one thing but when people go and trespass on farmers’ land, when they place video cameras into pig-sties and pens, and when they hassle and harass our farmers who are just doing their job to grow the food and fibre for our domestic purposes and our exports besides, then I think they’ve over-stepped the mark.

Interviewer:

In this case, they’ve just taken what’s probably mostly publicly available information, on the White Pages or even on the businesses’ own websites, and published it so is there really a case there for removing the page or prosecuting?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

They’ve haven’t said that they’re going to remove the page and quite frankly if they’re doing to do that sort of thing it leads to other things. It leads to people taking the law into their own hands in some circumstances and we’ve seen that. We’ve seen that in the recent past and we’ve it in recent years and quite frankly I don’t believe that they deserve the title of a charity and I think the website should be pulled down and I think that actual map (interruption).

Interviewer:

Any response from Facebook on that – you’ve called on them to pull it down?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

Well they haven’t done it as far as I’m aware to this stage and they’re standing defiant. The fact is I believe what they’re doing is un-Australian and it is very much un-charitable and I think it should cease.

Interviewer:

They say their intention is to force transparency on an industry dependent on secrecy. Do they have a point? While many farmers have opened their doors to our program for example, it is extremely difficult to get inside many processing plants – chicken processing plants for example – the kill room of a piggery. There have been many secret videos revealing quite shocking practices on some live export ships.

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

You could go into any abattoir in Australia and it’s fairly confronting. I’ve been into a few recently and they’re very well run. They place animal welfare standards front and centre of what they do. But at the end of the day, they are places of death. They are also places where they process meat and it is, as I say, confronting. But the fact is, for those people who enjoying eating a steak, enjoy chicken, enjoy pork, it’s a necessity of life. But the fact is they are operating under very strict protocols, under Australian standards, under a strict regime and as such they are doing the right thing by the animals, by the industry and by their customers. You can virtually in Australia today, whether you’re eating a steak, either domestically or whether it’s an export piece of beef, follow that piece of meat from basically from paddock to plate because of the conditions, the standards the protocols and the processes put in place. But these people, they just want to stop all that. They won’t stop at anything until they get their way and what I think they’re doing is uncharitable. They are earning money and getting money from people who I don’t, quite frankly, know what they’re giving their money to. And look, we all love animals – many of us have pets and we all love our animals – but the fact is, these meat processing plants are doing the job that they are required to do under very strict government guidelines and these people, on the other side of the fence, they just want people to stop eating meat, at any cost.

[ENDS]

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