Legislation to protect farmers from invasions by animal activists will be introduced today, delivering on a Morrison Government election commitment, Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien announced.
The Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019 introduces new offences for the incitement of trespass, property damage, or theft on agricultural land.
Mr O'Brien said acts of trespass by animal activists, such as those seen earlier this year, were damaging to primary producers and their businesses, and the Liberal Nationals Government was committed to protecting farmers from unlawful actions by introducing stronger deterrents.
"Our country relies on primary producers, and they should not be subjected to the illegal invasion of their properties which are not only their workplaces but often also their homes," Mr O'Brien said.
"There must be stronger consequences for this unacceptable behaviour, so this important Bill introduces serious criminal penalties to ensure that farmers and their families are protected, with offenders facing up to five years' imprisonment."
The Bill includes exemptions for journalists and whistle-blowers who expose instances of animal cruelty, and it also covers other private agricultural businesses such as fishers and foresters.
The Bill sends a clear message to animal activists that if you use the personal information of our family farmers to incite trespass then you will be risking jail, once the Bill passes. The Government has also called on State and Territory Governments to increase penalties to deter animal rights activists from trespass.
These laws are necessary to protect farmers and their businesses—most of them small family businesses—from potential trespass, property damage, theft and biosecurity breaches, and the substantial loss of income that could follow.
These new laws build on other actions taken by the Morrison Government to protect farmers and their families, including prescribing Aussie Farms under the Privacy Act, meaning the organisation could face fines of up to $2.1 million for breaches of the Act.
The Morrison Government is committed to supporting Australian farmers their families and their businesses and this Bill introduced today delivers on that commitment to this critically important part of our economy, our $60 billion agriculture industry.