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Victorian Nationals

Emma Kealy – Nationals win two-year battle to protect farmers private property 

Friday 16 February 2024


The Nationals have won a two-year long battle to enhance the protection of farmers’ private property from radical animal activists following the recent passage of the Biosecurity Legislation Amendment (Incident Response) Bill 2024.


Deputy Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Emma Kealy is pleased to see the new law has established tougher penalties for trespassing on agricultural premises, effectively doubling them to a maximum of $23,077 for individuals and $115,386 for organisations.


Two years ago, an Impact of Animal Activism Inquiry, led by The Nationals, unveiled significant deficiencies in existing trespass laws and revealed instances of justice system failures, yet the Labor Government ignored our recommendation of harsher penalties for individuals trespassing on, and causing damage to producer’s homes and businesses.


Ms Kealy said Labor’s two-year delay has resulted in costs and frustration, with insufficient penalties for animal activists who protest and damage agricultural premises, posing a risk to Victoria’s $19.6 billion agricultural industry.


Highlighting a previous incident only last year where 30 radical animal activists trespassed into a Benalla abattoir, chaining themselves to equipment in the facility to disrupt its normal operations, Ms Kealy said Labor refused to address inadequate penalties in the legislation when the Liberals and Nationals tried to amend the initial bill two years ago. Labor voted against harsher trespass penalties, only to introduce the exact same amendment this year.


“The welfare of all animals is paramount, and Victoria has some of the most stringent animal welfare laws in the country. However, farmers and the agricultural industry will not be dictated to by radical animal activists, nor will they have trespassers enter their home or workplace illegally, simply to cause disruption and damage. We all have the choice to enjoy meat when it is produced in a safe and sustainable way,” Ms Kealy said.


“We do not need extreme animal activists attempting to bring our agriculture industry to a grinding halt.”


Ms Kealy criticised Labor’s political games that left primary producers paying the price for Labor’s inability to listen and act on the needs of the industry.


“The two-year delay by Labor has meant justice denied for our hardworking farmers that were impacted by trespassing and damage to their premises prior to last week,” Ms Kealy said.


Despite this recent win, the fight is not over. The next battle is to ensure Labor does not destroy our state’s agricultural sector with their amendments to the Animal Care and Protection Bill, currently open for public submissions. With a history of questionable dealings between Labor and crossbench MPs, The Nationals will persist in our fight for strong animal welfare outcomes as well as the long-term viability of Victorian agriculture.

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