Tough new laws to better protect farmers and farm businesses against people inciting farm trespass have passed the Federal Parliament.
The new laws, passed last week, will mean anyone sharing farmers’ private details online to incite farm trespass will risk jail time and follows the publishing of thousands of farmers’ home addresses on the Aussie Farms website.
Member for Eastern Victorian Region Melina Bath said the Federal Nationals had driven the changes to Commonwealth law, which will strengthen the consequences for incitement of trespass, property damage and theft on agricultural land.
“These strong new laws are a huge win for farmers, their families and regional communities not only in Victoria, but Australia-wide,” Ms Bath said.
“It sends a clear message to law-breaking activists that publishing the personal information of farmers, including their home addresses, to incite trespass will not be tolerated.
“People acting illegally will now risk imprisonment of up to five years if they are found to have breached the privacy of farmers and their families.
“If you incite trespass and theft from farming families, you’re not an activist, you’re a criminal and deserve to feel the full consequences.”
Ms Bath said The Nationals had also been working in the Victorian Parliament to strengthen state laws to better protect farmers.
“During the farm trespass Inquiry regional hearing held in Warrnambool today we have listened to new examples of farmers economically and emotionally impacted by farm trespass,” said Ms Bath.
“It was disturbing to hear of a young family who are too frightened to live on farm due to repeated farm invasions.
“The clear message is Victoria’s farm trespass laws must be bolstered and appropriate penalties applied.
“The Federal government have done their part, now the Andrews Labor Government must get tough on animal activists and fix Victorian farm trespass laws.
A Victorian parliamentary inquiry is currently holding public hearings to gather evidence from farmers and industry on how the actions of animal activists are impacting their businesses and their livelihoods.
Ms Bath encouraged anyone targeted by law-breaking activists to consider giving evidence to the Committee at one of the remaining hearings.
“It’s critically important that the committee receives the evidence it needs to make strong recommendations for greater legal protection for our farmers,” Ms Bath said.
The committee will deliver a final report in November. Upcoming public hearings are scheduled for Horsham (September 18) and Wangaratta (October, Date TBC).
For more information and to view the public submissions visit www.parliament.vic.gov.au/965-eic-lc/inquiry-into-the-impact-of-animal-rights-activism-on-victorian-agriculture