Animal activists could be subject to tougher punishments after the Coalition Government announced it would introduce a new law to protect farmers if re-elected.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said under the proposed legislation, those who use information about farmers to incite trespass and criminal activity would receive up to a year in jail.
The announcement follows last Monday’s nationwide animal activist protests, when protesters chained themselves to factory equipment on agricultural property and blocked traffic in the Melbourne CBD.
The privacy of farmers will also be protected when the Government lists website Aussie Farms — which includes an interactive map naming and locating producers — under the Privacy Act.
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the information exposed farmers and agricultural producers to potential trespass, biosecurity hazards, and reputational damage.
Mr Little proud said he had asked numerous times for the website to be taken down, and the listing would mean the company would have to abide by the provisions of the Act, exposing it to more than $2.1 million in penalties if it did not.
“The farming families who grow our food deserve to be able to do so without fear of invasion on their property and harm to their children,” he said.
Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s Nick Fardell, the WA Nationals’ No.1 Senate candidate, was pleased with the privacy announcement.
“Publishing personal information on attack maps and inciting people to break the law is simply abhorrent,” he said.
WA Nationals agriculture spokesman Colin de Grussa said harsher penalties for activists only addressed one element regional communities are concerned about, and said Parliament also needed to address the use of drones for surveillance or harassment. Speaking in State Parliament on Wednesday, WA Nationals leader Mia Davies made a motion to establish a committee to address concerns of animal activism and rural crime.