Labor’s delays leaving farmers exposed to illegal trespass

The Andrews Labor Government has failed to introduce laws to impose on-the-spot fines to better protect Victorian farmers against farm trespass.

A parliamentary inquiry recommended on-the-spot fines be implemented as a solution to stop extreme animal activists breaking into farms, stealing livestock and damaging biosecurity in February 2020.

However, more than a year after the Inquiry report was handed down and six months since Labor finally agreed to the recommendation, farmers are still waiting for change.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victorian Region, Melina Bath brought the issue of illegal farm trespass and animal activism to state parliament at the start of 2018 and successfully established an upper house Inquiry which recommended Victoria implement on the spot fines for illegal farm trespass.

“Other states have already enacted similar laws so there is no excuse for Victoria’s protracted delays,” said Ms Bath.

“Farmers deserve to feel safe in their own homes, but Victoria’s weak farm trespass rules embolden extreme activists to break the law – instead of deterring them.

“Victorian farmers were expecting to see the Andrews Labor Government implement on-the-spot fines with the same urgency as New South Wales, but frustrating there has only been inaction.

“By contrast the NSW Liberal Nationals Government proactively took action to better protect farmers, it’s time the Victorian Government stepped up and got the job done.”

Victoria’s farm trespass inquiry was established in May 2019 after The Nationals successfully advocated for farmers’, standing up against worsening illegal farm invasions in State Parliament.

Many Victorians were left appalled after a law-breaking activist received a fine of just $1 in court for breaching biosecurity after livestock was stolen from the Gippy Goat Café in Yarragon.

The Café was attacked multiple times by activists and subjected to sustained online abuse.  It eventually closed, costing local jobs.

Ms Bath said farm invasion took a heavy emotional toll on farm families and their employees.

“These farms are not just a business, for the people who live on them they’re home,” said Ms Bath.

“The Andrews Labor Government continues to let down our farmers, it’s refused to prioritise seasonal worker shortages for crop harvesting and it’s failed to protect our livestock farmers and their animals despite the Inquiry’s recommendations.

“Daniel Andrews must decide if his government stands with the extreme animal activists who want to destroy livestock farming or deliver much needed support for Victorian farmers.

“The Andrews Government is fresh out of excuses – its new Agriculture Minister must ensure these reforms are immediately drafted and presented.

“The Nationals will continue to fight for our farmers when State Parliament resumes in February,” Ms Bath said.