Victorian farmers had a small win today with the Andrews Labor Government finally agreeing to take the first steps to fix farm trespass laws.
The commitment comes in response to the final report of the Inquiry into the Impact of Animal Rights Activism on Victorian Agriculture, which was established by the Liberal Nationals to better protect our farmers.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said our farmers have long called for stronger protections from the impact of animal activists caught trespassing on Victorian farms, but have struggled to secure a commitment from Daniel Andrews to act.
“Trespass is trespass. It’s illegal and anyone found guilty should feel the full force of the law,” Mr Walsh said.
“Establishing and enforcing on-the-spot fines will go a long way to restoring farmers’ confidence and fixing Victoria’s broken farm trespass laws.
“We know from evidence given to this inquiry, established by the hard work of Nationals MP Melina Bath, that current laws aren’t protecting our farmers.
“Labor MPs failed our farmers when they refused to support this inquiry.
“It’s time the Andrews Government decides if it stands with law-breaking activists or our hard-working, law-abiding farmers.”
Recommendation 1, which has now been rejected by the Victorian Government, called for a “public interest exemption” to protect activists who illegally entered private properties and installed secret surveillance.
Farmers feared the Andrews Government would cave to pressure from animal activists when Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes refused to immediately reject the recommendation.
The Andrews Government must not delay implementing on-the-spot fines for biosecurity breaches.
New South Wales moved last year to beef up its Biosecurity Act with $1000 on-the-spot fines for activists caught illegally entering properties and fines of up to $440,000 for groups or corporations. Implementation of a similar measure in Victoria has been supported by the Victorian Farmers Federation.
Recommendations 9 and 14 of the Inquiry’s final report were also strongly rejected by the Liberal Nationals.