Stricter laws introduced to tackle animal activists

Stricter laws introduced to tackle animal activists

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Animal activists who invade farms could face jail time or fines of up to $60,000 under new laws that passed through Queensland parliament on Thursday.

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Animal activists who invade farms could face jail time or hefty fines under new laws that passed through Queensland parliament on Thursday.

Agriculture minister Mark Furner said the passage of the Agriculture and Other Legislation Amendment Bill on Thursdaymeant those convicted under the new laws could face up to one year in jail for trespassing or a fine of more than $60,000.

"This is a direct response to a series of incidents early last year that saw animal activists invading farming operations and potentially compromising the biosecurity of those premises and food safety for consumers," he said.

"Everybody has the right to feel safe and protected in their workplace and in their homes.

"While this government supports the right to protest lawfully, it is not acceptable for people to go onto private or commercial property without authorisation, no matter their cause.

"Farms are complex and potentially dangerous environments.

"Unauthorised entry poses a risk to everybody concerned as well as to livestock."

The legislation amends the Summary Offences Act 2005, the Biosecurity Act 2014 and the Exhibited Animals Act 2015 to include penalties for those unlawfully entering a food production facility, a feedlot or a live export facility, as well as a showground or sporting ground used for animals.

Mr Furner said he believed the bill struck the correct balance between the rights of protesters and the rights of farmers.

The change comes following on-the-spot fines brought in last year amid rising concern over animal activist activities on farms across south east Queensland.

During parliamentary discussions on the bill on Wednesday, Opposition agriculture spokesman Tony Perrett said the government had been slow to act on the issue of animal extremists.

"We cannot allow these militant and extreme minorities to hold to ransom our hardworking farmers and those working in the agricultural supply chain," he said.

"We welcome the fact that the government is finally taking some action on this serious issue.

"Unfortunately, the penalties are manifestly weak.

"We need strong deterrents to deter these extremists who are backed by well-resourced and organised third parties."

The LNP has previously proposed adding three new trespass offences to target animal activists, with maximum jail terms of 10 years.

The LNP bill, yet to be debated in parliament, proposes offences of aggravated trespass with a maximum $13,055 fine or 3 years jail, serious criminal trespass with a maximum $391,650 fine or 10 years jail and organised trespass with a maximum $391,650 fine or 10 years jail.

In November the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee recommended that bill not be passed.

The story Stricter laws introduced to tackle animal activists first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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