Farmer group presents fines idea
Victoria’s peak farming group has presented a list of farm-trespass fines it believes should be introduced, to an Inquiry into the Impact of Animal Rights Activism.
Victorian Farmers Federation president and Wimmera farmer David Jochinke asked for trespass penalties of $220,000 for individuals and $400,000 for organisations and $1000 on-the-spot fines.
Mr Jochinke said there was a need for greater trespass penalties based on incidents involving activists.
“Earlier this year, more than 70 activists stormed the Gippy Goat Café, intimated staff, entered stock yards, and repeatedly stole livestock,” he said.
“The ringleader of this group received a grand total of two $1 fines. Another activist was found guilty of theft but received zero penalties from the court.
“The purpose of the Inquiry is to determine if current laws are effective in preventing and deterring activists from trespassing on farms. How could they be effective when the courts are handing out such pitiful penalties?
“By their own admission, activists wilfully defy the law without fear of consequences. They continue to invade family farms and even repeatedly attack the same farm over a series of weeks.”
Mr Jochinke said tougher laws were required because trespass on farm properties presented particular risks that did not exist in other workplaces.
“There are risks to personal safety, but also animal welfare, biosecurity and public health,” he said.
“Most importantly, farm trespass is akin to home invasion. Farms are not only a place of work but are the homes of our farming families.
“After hearing the shocking stories of farming families harassed by activists, I hope Parliament will have no doubt in their minds - we need tougher laws to protect our farming families and deter invaders.” For more on farm trespass, see page 39.