Amidst an epidemic of illegal land clearing, criminal animal cruelty and concern about mining operations, the NSW Government have stepped in with “Right to Farm” laws to protect corporate agribusiness from protest and scrutiny. Those affected by these laws will likely include many farmers who have been at the forefront of campaigns including those against coal seam gas and to protect farmland and water supplies.
- Quadruple the penalty for aggravated unlawful entry on inclosed lands from $5,500 to $22,000
- Impose a prison term of up to three years on people who “hinder” a business while trespassing
- Create a new offence of ‘direct, incite, counsel, procure or induce aggravated unlawful entry’ which means individuals who encourage someone to peacefully protest could face an $11,000 fine or 12 months imprisonment
Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“These laws are directly aimed at criminalising protest and those exposing serious environmental breaches and animal cruelty.
“Trespass is already illegal in NSW and in 2016 the Government imposed a large number of additional penalties to target protesters.
“Rather than address the root causes of protest the Government is trying once again to make it unlawful, and in doing so is eroding a fundamental right.
“These laws don’t just apply to farms – they cover supermarkets and even banks.
“The Greens will be moving amendments to protect the right to freedom of speech and political expression by adding a defence if the person was engaged in identifying, investigating or preventing serious criminal breaches of environmental or animal cruelty laws.
“Many of those targeted by these new laws will be farmers and rural landowners on neighbouring properties who are attempting to protect their own land and crops.
“We will never abandon the brave forest activists, land and water protectors, and animal lovers who are taking action for the environment and creatures who have no vote.
“We will also be moving to rename the bill to accurately reflect its intention – as the Right to Farm (Limiting Protest and Transparency) Bill,” Mr Shoebridge said.