Don't have a cow, man

Well known local environmental activist Benny Zable was arrested and charged with trespass when he tried to get his anti-meat message across to crowds gathered for Australia Day celebrations at the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre.

Benny said he had taken offence to the federal government’s advertising campaign encouraging Australian’s to ‘BBQ like you’ve never BBQ’d before’. The full page ads mimicked 1950s surf life saving posters and featured three people holding packaged meat to their hearts.

“It’s all wrapped in plastic, which pollutes the environment; it was really an ad for the meat industry,” he said. “I’m vegetarian and know the impact it (the meat industry) has on the environment. It’s on par with coal. I’ve got a whole lot of information to share with people. It clears forests, poisons and degrades rivers and is having a big impact on climate change. It’s also about diet – we have the highest rate of obesity per capita anywhere in the world. We really have to question our lifestyle, always.”

Benny and a couple of assistants arrived before the commencement of official activities, setting up an information stand with Benny dressed in his trademark black outfit and an assistant dressed as a cow.

Benny said the trouble started when he went inside and stood in the lobby of the aquatic centre.

“I was told to get out by one of the guards and then when I wouldn’t, a representative from Council came over. I was in the lobby away from where the speakers were. The others were outside; they didn’t want to get caught up in the conflict between me and the Council woman. I thought this was a public event.”

The police were called and Benny was arrested for trespass and will appeal in Lismore Local Court on March 1.

“It’s an unfortunate situation. I didn’t want to make a big deal and get arrested, I just wanted to be there to do it,” he said. “I don’t like this really nationalistic approach to Australia Day at the moment. I think we need more engagement and protest is important.

“We’ve got to say ‘wake up’; that’s a job that the nation benefits from in the long run.”

Benny said he plans to write to Mayor Jenny Dowell to see if the charges can be dropped, otherwise he plans to rally his supporters around him for his day in court.

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