Minister calls for bill support to protect farmers

Zach RelphCountryman
Federal Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie.
Camera IconFederal Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie. Credit: Josh Fernandes

Federal Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie has restated her stance to deter animal activists from farm invasions, calling for bipartisan support to safeguard the nation’s producers.

She urged Labor and the Greens to support Australia’s farmers in the wake of a series of “sophisticated and co-ordinated attacks on farming operations”.

“The people who produce the food that feeds us have a right to feel safe in their businesses and homes without the threat of activists’ invasions,” she said.

“Farmers have contacted me questioning their place in the industry, and it is too late for others who have left altogether.

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“No one should be subjected to this sort of behaviour in their business or home — it risks the safety of farmers, animal welfare and biosecurity.”

The comments come after the Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019 was debated on Monday.

Animals activists could be jailed for up to five years if they trespass, under the Bill’s tough proposed penalties.

National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson welcomed the Bill, while acknowledging the agriculture industry had endured “highly distressing incidents”.

“We are not in the business of suppressing free speech or shielding those who fail to meet the regulated standards of animal welfare from scrutiny,” she said.

“Unfortunately many anti-farming activists have chosen to express their views by trespassing, harassing and putting at risk the safety of farming families, their workers and their livestock.

“The measures in the Criminal Code Amendment Bill provide some comfort to farmers that there are now real consequences for those who incite this behaviour, which we hope will provide a strong deterrent for this criminal conduct.”

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