Livestock SA has welcomed today’s State Government announcement from Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone on the introduction of stronger trespass laws in South Australia, with a doubling of penalties and stronger enforcement of breaches.
But we await the exact detail on the intended changes.
Livestock SA President Joe Keynes said trespassing had become an increasing concern for many producers after Aussie Farms published an online map detailing the locations of farm properties across Australia. It was then followed by an array of farm invasions, with Aussie Farms ignoring calls to take the page down.
Trespass laws in SA are currently an amalgam of common law and statute addressing particular types of trespass captured in the Summary Offences Act and the Criminal Law Consolidation Act.
Mr Keynes said there was inadequate legislative structure around the law of trespass in SA, particularly to deal with the problems of trespass under the guise of ‘animal liberation’, as has been demonstrated in recent times in other states.
In SA currently people trespassing on land can only be banned for a period of 24 hours. If trespassers interfere with gates or disturb farm animals, there is only a maximum fine of $750.
“These penalties do not reflect the serious impacts to biosecurity that can flow from either of these offences, particularly if the offender is acting with a malicious intent,” Mr Keynes said.
“These laws need to be overhauled, trespass laws need to be strong enough to protect producers.
“There is not even the slightest regard given for important issues such as biosecurity and other farm practices that are designed to protect tens of thousands of South Australian jobs and the health of all South Australians.”
National Farmers Federation President Fiona Simson also discussed the risks to animal agriculture by activism, farm invasion and public policy at today’s GROWING SA Conference.
The changes follow recent announcements at a federal level, with a new bill introduced by the Coalition Government with greater penalties for offenders.
Last month New South Wales announced legislation that will see on the spot fines of $1000, biosecurity breach fines of $220,000 and corporate fines of $440,000 for farm trespass. In Victoria a Parliamentary Inquiry into the Impact of Animal Rights Activism on Victorian Agriculture is currently underway.