NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro has stood by his claim farm trespassers are “domestic terrorists”, comparing their actions to those of an armed invader.
The Nationals leader on Friday appeared before a NSW budget estimates inquiry and quickly came to blows with Animal Justice Party upper house MP Emma Hurst.
In response to Ms Hurst’s questioning, Mr Barilaro re-emphasised his previous declaration from July that vegan animal rights activists trespassing on farms were “domestic terrorists”.
He also said their actions had the potential to traumatise rural children.
“This is a concerted effort to terrorise regional communities, terrorise businesses and shut down industry,” said Mr Barilaro, the minister for regional NSW, industry and trade.
“Imagine living on a property, isolated, in regional NSW, and in the middle of the night when your family sleeps, you are confronted by 10, 20, 100 trespassers, illegally trespassing on your property, terrorising your family.
“That’s no different to someone turning up on your land with a gun in hand.”
He then said the activists’ actions had in fact resulted in harm to animals, which Ms Hurst said was a groundless accusation.
Ms Hurst then asked Mr Barilaro if it was offensive to compare vegan farm trespassers to terrorists such as those who committed the Christchurch massacre.
“That you don’t realise the terrorising of these communities and families, that’s offensive,” Mr Barilaro responded.
Mr Barilaro announced in July that trespassers would be hit with fines of up to $220,000 per person and $440,000 for corporations, effective from August 1.
Further legislation is also being considered, including potential jail time.
The federal parliament on Thursday also agreed to legislation creating new federal offences for inciting trespass, theft and damage on Australian farms.
The federal Greens savaged the major political parties for being on the “wrong side of history” on the issue and described the legislation as anti-protest.