State Government beefs up trespass laws

The Marshall Liberal Government has announced that it will be beefing up trespass laws to protect South Australian farmers and primary producers from animal activists and protesters.

A draft Bill focusing on creating a new offence specifically for farm trespassing, carrying greater maximum penalties and increasing existing penalties in current laws is currently underway and open for public consultation.

The Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said the intention of this draft Bill is to consult with key industry stakeholders while keeping it open to the general community to hear from all South Australians.

“The new aggravated farm trespass offence would penalise a person who trespassed on primary production land and interfered with the conduct of primary production activities on the land, or did anything that puts the safety of people on the land at risk.

These are serious crimes and we recommend the penalties match – a $10,000 fine or 12 months imprisonment, along with compensation to the farmer,” Ms Chapman said.

Also proposed is an increase to the penalties applying under a number of trespass offences that already exist under the Summary Offences Act 1953.

Currently the maximum fine for trespassing is $2,500 and to further deter trespassing, the penalty is proposed to double to a maximum of $5,000.

Penalties for interfering with farm gates would double to $1,500 and penalties for disturbing farm animals would increase from $750 to $2,500 or a prison term of six months.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said farmers in South Australia deserve adequate protection from activists and protestors.

“Our primary producers are critical to the state’s economy and that’s why we are strengthening our trespass laws to recognise the additional risks that these protesters can have on primary production.

If you put our farmers and supply chains at risk, you will be penalised,” Minister Whetstone said.

Member for Hammond Adrian Pederick is thrilled by this announcement and what it means for the state’s farmers and producers.

“Myself and other regional MP’s have been lobbying for these changes and working with the Attorney-General to get to this successful outcome.

Coming from the land I know that farms are livelihoods that have often been passed down through generations and it is essential there are laws to protect them from trespassing and other illegal acts,” Mr Pederick said.

The draft Bill is available on the Government’s YourSAy website: https://yoursay.sa.gov.au/farm-trespass-laws