NSW Nationals Member for Upper Hunter and Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture Michael Johnsen has welcomed news that farm trespassers will face the toughest penalties in Australia including up to three years jail time, while farmers will enjoy the State’s first legislated ‘right to farm’, under a historic piece of legislation set to be introduced by the Nationals in Government.
Mr Johnsen said this legislation was all about sending the clearest possible message: Enough is enough.
“Our community has had a gutful of vile attacks against hard working farming families,” Mr Johnsen said. “This ground-breaking piece of legislation, introduced by the NSW Nationals in Government, will create a clear deterrent to any would-be vigilantes considering unlawfully trespassing on farming properties.
The proposed legislation will introduce:
- The toughest penalties in Australia for farm trespass, including three years jail time and up to $22,000 in fines. Currently there is no jail time for trespass.
- New offences and aggravating factors for activities such as trespassing as a group, damaging property and releasing livestock.
- Legal recognition of a farmer’s right to farm, shielding them from nuisance claims.
“Importantly, it will also for the first time recognise a farmer’s inherent right to farm and provide safeguards against nonsense nuisance claims,” Mr Johnsen said. “These changes would ensure NSW has the toughest penalties in Australia for farm trespass, including new offences that exist in no other State or Territory.”
“If you invade a farm in NSW you’ll face the toughest penalties in the nation and three years potential jail time.”
The legislation will also recognise a farmer’s inherent right to farm and provide protections for those facing costly legal action for simply going about their business.
“If you’re farming legally and have done so for many years, you’re not going to cop a nuisance claim and potential legal action just because some folks from the city moved next door and decided they didn’t like the sound of your dairy herd,” Mr Johnsen said.
The Bill comes on top of regulatory changes recently introduced under the Biosecurity Act 2015, which impose further offences and large financial penalties for farm trespass that breaches on-farm biosecurity plans.
“The Right to Farm Bill was an election commitment by the NSW Nationals, and we are ensuring our promises are met,” Mr Johnsen said.
- Penalties for farm trespass will be increased from fines of up to $5500, to three years jail time and up to $22,000 in fines. Trespassers may also face additional biosecurity fines introduced by the NSW Nationals in Government in July.
- A new offence will be created for inciting or causing a trespass.
- New aggravating factors for trespassing in a group, damaging property and willfully or negligently releasing stock. No other State or Territory has an offence for group trespass.
Right to farm
- Recognising for the very first time a farmer’s inherent right to farm.
- Establishing a new defence in law for famers going about legal farming practices, shielding them from neighbours suing them for ‘nuisance claims’.
- This will mean a court won’t be able to order an injunction against an activity that is allegedly causing a nuisance such as trucks moving chickens, spray rigs, spraying crops etc.