WA farmers preventing mining companies or bank access to their properties could get caught up in laws aimed at giving police power over protestors, fears Shooters and Fishers Party MLC Rick Mazza.
Mr Mazza has raised his concerns in State Parliament in a bid to stop farmers being caught up in laws within the Criminal Code Amendment (Prevention of Lawful Activity) Bill 2015, but his amendment was voted down and his concerns were dismissed.
"It's a bit of a shame because there's no doubt farmers could be prosecuted under that Act if they prevent a bank foreclosing and the bank is there with a lawful purpose," he said.
"The intention is to obviously catch protestors causing nuisance and I have no problem with that, I support the Bill on that basis, but I'm disappointed they didn't pick up the amendment to give farmers some relief."
Convictions under that Act could bring two years imprisonment or a $24,000 fine, and it will be an offence for a person to possess an item for the purposes of physically preventing access or for trespass.
Mr Mazza is worried about an offence under the new Act of "physical prevention of lawful activity".
This offence would apply where a person prevents a lawful activity from occurring, via actual or by threat of physical force, the creation or maintenance of a physical barrier or the creation or maintenance of a risk of injury to any person.
Attorney General Michael Mischin sought to reassure Mr Mazza.
"If there is a power to seize a particular item and someone within the meaning of the Bill prevents that lawful activity by way of physical means within the meaning of the legislation, then, yes, they could fall foul of it," Mr Mischin said.
"That is to be distinguished from having some lawful process such as the foreclosure of a mortgage whereby there are legal entitlements, but no-one is entitled to go on and simply seize items when they are not empowered to do so or to do so in an unlawful fashion.
"We are looking at a particular activity that is being conducted to see whether it is lawful.
"If the member is trying to suggest that somehow particular elements of society, particular people in society, ought somehow to be protected from the general law, that is not accommodated by the Bill, nor could it be sensibly."
Mr Mazza said the open wording of the Bill could be interpreted to suit the situation.
"I am very concerned that the Bill will affect people who are usually very law-abiding citizens on their own land," he said.
"They are in peaceful possession of that land.
"They are not generally protagonists, and I am very concerned that this Bill might catch them.
"I am looking for some relief for those people."
Mr Mazza's concerns were supported by Labor Agricultural Region MLC Darren West, who also dismissed the Attorney General's assertions.
"Under this Bill not only could we as farmers not shut out mining companies, but also when banks move on us we cannot even dig our heels in at the front gate either - we will be picked up by these laws," Mr West said.
The introduction of the Bill has also drawn international criticism from the United Nations and the International Service for Human Rights.
The groups have called on WA parliamentarians not to support the legislation that could result in criminalisation of lawful protests and the silencing of environmentalists and human rights defenders.
They said if passed "it would go against Australia's international obligations under international human rights law, including the rights to freedom of opinion and expression as well as peaceful assembly and association".