Farm trespass has been a key priority for NSW Farmers for the last decade.
We have long argued the current protections are insufficient and we are starting to see decisive action from both the NSW and Commonwealth government.
The NSW government introducing new on-the-spot trespass fines recognises the risk to biosecurity caused by animal activists. We welcome this move to amend biosecurity legislation and introduce on-the-spot fines of $1000 and further biosecurity fines of up to $220,000 per person or $440,000 for corporations.
Biosecurity is critical to farmers, as it ensures our market access and minimises disease risk to provide high quality welfare outcomes. The biosecurity risks posed by trespassers have been long overlooked. The government's action is critical as it demonstrates its commitment to protecting biosecurity.
We have long said the scourge of trespass and unlawful surveillance will not be solved by a single measure, and farmers need a range of activities.
The federal government has complemented the action in NSW, by seeking to introduce new laws that create an offence of using the internet to "incite" trespass on farms.
The Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill aims to criminalise the use of a carriage service with the intention of inciting another person to trespass to commit other property offences.
The new offence seeks to protect farmers from organisations like Aussie Farms, which seek to encourage others to invade farms. The penalties linked to the new offence are strong - up to five years' imprisonment.
The final critical step will be enhancing the NSW legislative framework around trespass and illegal surveillance.
We need laws that are effective in prosecuting these trespassers, as too often accused walk away without criminal prosecutions.
Additionally, penalties must be strengthened, so mandatory sentences apply and the fines are significant.
- James Jackson is president of NSW Farmers