Minister for Agriculture
Senator the Hon. Bridget McKenzie
The Hon. Christian Porter MP
The Morrison Government is today delivering on its election commitment to protect the privacy of Australian farmers and primary producers by introducing legislation to protect them from the unlawful actions of animal activists.
The Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019 introduces new offences for the incitement of trespass, property damage, or theft on agricultural land.
Attorney-General, Christian Porter, said incidents of trespass by animal activists, such as those we saw earlier this year, have impacted on Australian farmers and their businesses, prompting this stronger action to deter those who incite this behaviour.
"There must be consequences for this unacceptable behaviour," the Attorney-General said.
"Farmers should not be subjected to the illegal invasion of their property and their privacy.
"The 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."
The Bill also covers other private agricultural businesses such as fishers and foresters.
Minister for Agriculture, Bridget McKenzie, said 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 the 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," the Minister said.
"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."