POLICE responded to a 000 call from organisers of the South Gippsland Dairy Expo at Korumburra Showgrounds last Thursday, after a group of about 20 protesters unlawfully entered the event.
Sallie Jones and Steve Ronalds of Gippsland Jersey said they were standing on the football oval, just about to start their Big Gippsland Jersey Milk-Off, when the group of animal rights activists appeared on the oval, forcing the competition to be postponed.
The group, made up of members of ‘DxE Melbourne’ and ‘Melbourne Cow Save,’ stood in front of the Ross Family Stand for several minutes, holding up signs and banners as their leader, Joanne Ware, used a megaphone to read a speech alleging animal cruelty and exploitation in the dairy industry.
While many expo attendees chose to ignore or laugh off the protest, some farmers in the crowd were visibly upset, yelling back questions like “Have you ever been to a real dairy farm?”
Senior Constables Luke Sheahan and Nathan Grist from Leongatha Police Station said the protesters’ presence was unlawful as they had entered the expo without paying the admission fee.
They said the group “peacefully” left the showgrounds when police arrived.
One passer-by stopped to tell the Constables they weren’t needed, as the farmers would have formed a “lynch mob” and dealt with the protesters themselves.
With police still on the scene, the protesters stood just outside the showgrounds’ entry gate shouting: “Go vegan!” at nearby expo attendees.
Several people who witnessed the protest but did not wish to be named said it was very disappointing that a small minority were trying to “ruin” the day for everyone.
Some said the protest was “disgraceful,” while Sallie from Gippsland Jersey said it was pointless, as the activists were “preaching to the unconverted”.
Chairman of the Dairy Expo, Strzelecki Lions Club member Cliff Wallace said it was the first protest to occur in the event’s 18-year history.
One of the protesting groups, Melbourne Cow Save, issued the following statement:
On Thursday, Melbourne Cow Save and Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) Melbourne took the animal rights message to the South Gippsland Dairy Expo in Korumburra.
The objective of the action was to push the dairy industry and the farming community to take animal rights seriously.
Two dozen activists entered the venue and disrupted the milking marathon which was due to commence at 12:30pm.
The group, who remained on the oval for 30 minutes, spoke to the local community about the plight of dairy cows and their calves. While there was some push back from the crowd, there was also words of support.
The group was promoting veganism; to live life causing the least harm possible.
“We are able to live happily and healthily without exploiting and harming animals, so were encouraging the dairy industry and the community to move forward with the rest of the world. With the ever-increasing evidence to support that dairy is in fact cruel to the animals but also detrimental to our health and the planet, consumers are opening their eyes, and supply of plant-based milks is on the rise.”
To find out more about Melbourne Cow Save and DxE Melbourne they invite you to visit their Facebook pages.