Farmers in north-east Victoria had the opportunity to have their say on the impact of farm invasion when the parliamentary inquiry to fix farm trespass laws visited Wangaratta yesterday.
The inquiry heard from farmers who have serious concerns for the safety of their family and livestock and detailed the emotional and economic toll of unauthorised entry onto farms.
Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy said the evidence would help inform the Committee’s final report, which will be delivered in November.
“Farmers are outraged and concerned at the safety risk of farm trespass, both for their family and their livestock,” he said.
“Vigilante trespassers who illegally enter farms and steal livestock are not activists, they’re criminals “
In a recent case, law-breaking animal activists charged following a rally that shut down the Melbourne CBD received a $100 fine to be donated to their favourite charity, while another activist found guilty of stealing livestock was fined just $1.
The Federal Government has recently passed tough new laws to protect farmers against anyone sharing their private details online to incite farm trespass. It means anyone found guilty will now face jail time.
Mr McCurdy said farmers must be heard.
“Farmers are outraged at the potential risks facing their farms due to the illegal behaviour of activists,” Mr McCurdy said.
“One producer at today’s hearing spoke of farmers’ fears they would be targeted by trespassers after their personal address was posted online. This is taking a huge emotional toll.
“The Andrews Labor Government must not ignore the calls from our communities for better protection for our farmers.”