Peter Walsh: Labor and Greens blocked crucial changes to farm trespass laws

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Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said Labor’s Bill failed to fix farm trespass laws, with amendments needed to extend protections to include river frontage leased land and to deter invasions by doubling the maximum fine.

Extreme animal activists will be free to illegally invade farmer’s river frontage lease land without consequence after Victorian Labor MPs teamed up with the Greens tonight to block crucial changes to farm trespass laws.

The Victorian lower house voted on the Livestock Management Amendment (Animal Activism) Bill 2021 tonight, but Labor MPs voted against two key amendments proposed by the Liberals and Nationals.

“Labor’s act of political bastardry shows it’s abandoned farmers and farm families who have a right to feel safe at home,” Walsh said.

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“The Agriculture Minister’s legislation cruelly excludes a farmer’s river frontage lease land from protections under the law and goes soft on the illegal action of extreme activists by proposing maximum fines for individuals that are among the lowest in the nation.

“It’s no surprise when nearly half of Labor’s MPs rely on Greens preferences to get elected. I’m worried about what deals might be done between the Greens and Labor in the future that will further strangle farmer’s rights.

“Farmers and farm families deserve to feel safe in their own homes, but Labor’s refused to offer them protections with a Bill that doesn’t go far enough to stop the illegal actions of law-breaking activists.”

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The legislation is the result of a parliamentary inquiry to fix farm trespass laws, which made recommendations in February 2020 that Victoria introduce heavy on-the-spot fines to stop illegal invasions.

But the Labor Government refused to take action for two years, raising questions on why it wasn’t acting sooner to deter illegal entry on Victorian farms.

It follows a failure to act to protect other key regional Victorian industries that are being threatened by the illegal actions of extreme activists, including hard-working timber workers in Gippsland and Victoria’s north-east.

The Bill will now go to the Legislative Council. The Liberals and Nationals will again seek support for these amendments when it comes up for debate.