FARMERS say fines set to be imposed on militant animal rights activists are laughable, insisting repeat offenders should face criminal charges.
The Palaszczuk government announced on April 14 that activists who invade farms and meatworks in Queensland will face $652.75 on-the-spot fines under new biosecurity laws planned to come into force later this month.
Only five people have been charged following the protests, which cause major disruption to both businesses including biosecurity breaches.
However, AgForce chief executive officer Michael Guerin said a $650 (sic) fine for what was effectively a terrifying home invasion was manifestly inadequate.
"Much more needs to be done to stop these radical activists overrunning farms and frightening families," Mr Guerin said.
"Extremists who illegally invade farms are putting the lives of farmers, their families and their employees at risk.
"They also pose a serious threat to biosecurity, and actually cause a great amount distress to the very animals they say they're trying to protect.
"Farmers take the issue of animal welfare very seriously. They just want to be allowed to go about their absolutely ethical and legal business."
Police Minister Mark Ryan said the fines would be issued either on-the-spot or later, after a review of evidence from the protest site by either police and biosecurity officers.
Activists who move from location to location for multiple protests will face being slapped with multiple $652.75 on-the-spot fines, he said.
However, Mr Guerin said it was mischievious of the government to suggest AgForce had endorsed the $652.75 fine as a member of the Animal Industry Security Taskforce, when the group met on April 11.
"We supported an increase in the level of the fine but an amount was never discussed," Mr Guerin said.
"What we want are laws to result in a quick escalation to criminal conviction, particularly for repeat offenders."
Australian Lot Feeders Association president Bryce Camm said he was supportive of the new measure.
"It's not a bad deterrent," Mr Camm said. "Police will be able to walk around issuing on-the-spot fines to activists and that removes the judicial process."
LNP Opposition agriculture spokesman Tony Perrett took a harder line, saying the $652.75 fine would not deter militant minorities.
"These slap-on-the-wrist fines do nothing to respond to the community outrage against these extremists terrorising our hard-working family farmers," Mr Perrett said.
"These extremists have shown time and time again they are more than happy to pay these pathetic fines as there's no threat of any real punishment.
"It's time to throw these un-Australian extremists behind bars."
Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said in addition to fines, protestors could also face the courts and possible jail time on trespass charges.
Five people are scheduled to face trespass charges in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court on May 9, following a trespassing incident at a Millmerran property last month.
Initially charges were laid against a 29-year-old woman and 26-year-old man, both of Margate, who were alleged to be the principal organisers of a protest.
Investigations are said to be ongoing.