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AustralianFarmers

Government beefs up farm trespass laws

As of this week, New South Wales has the toughest farm trespass laws in Australia.

In a shake-up of the state’s Biosecurity Act animal rights “vigilantes” who trespass on private farming property will now face an on-the-spot fines starting at $1000.

The change was announced by NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said.

Today the Government is putting these vigilantes and thugs on notice.

“Your time threatening the agriculture industry and hardworking farmers is over,” Mr Marshall said in reference to the extreme animal radicals.

Under the new laws, to come into effect on August 1, trespassers can also receive fines of up to $220,000 for individuals and $400,000 for groups and corporates. 

“This is just the first part of a broader package of reforms the Government is working on, and gaol time will be included in further legislation,” Mr Marshall said.

Also this week, the Morrison Government progressed legislation to amend The Criminal Code (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019, creating tough new penalties for those who incite trespass, property damage or theft on agricultural land.

“By making this legislation a first order of priority, the government is sending a clear signal that it will not tolerate the sort of behaviour we have seen from anti-farming activists, and is prepared to act swiftly and decisively,” National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson said.

Anti-farming activists invading a feedlot in Victoria earlier this year.

This is a welcomed change by the agricultural industry after farming businesses endured organised protests and break-ins causing biosecurity risks and distress on livestock, Ms Simson said.

“There has been a surge in anti-farm activism this year, including highly distressing incidences where farms, feedlots and abattoirs have been invaded by activists who harass and intimidate law abiding farmers,” she said. 

The Bill includes important protections for journalists and those who are making lawful disclosures of information, such as whistleblowing.

“These are important as we are not in the business of supressing free speech or shielding those who fail to meet the regulated standards of animal welfare from scrutiny,” Ms Simson said.

Andrea Martinello

Andrea Martinello

Andrea is the Community & Engagement Officer at the National Farmers' Federation.

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