Australian farmers have welcomed moves to inflict tougher penalties on trespassing animal rights activists, as the country faces increased action.
New South Wales (NSW) is set to introduce the toughest laws in Australia to combat activists illegally entering farms.
The Federal Government is also cracking down on trespassers as increased numbers of protesters have escalated their activity on-farm over recent months, with new laws expected over the next fortnight.
From August 1, trespassers caught illegally on farms will receive an on-the-spot fine of $1,000 (£565).
Further fines include up to $220,000 (£124,316) per person and $440,000 (£248,640) for corporations.
It will be mandatory for visitors to farms to comply with a biosecurity management plan and anyone entering without complying may be subject to the new penalties.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the NSW Government was sending a strong warning to those who illegally invade farms and harass farmers.
“The NSW Government is looking at ways we can further deter this kind of behaviour, including the introduction of legislation and potential jail time for offenders,” he said.
Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall added the NSW Government is determined to clamp down on illegal farm invasions.
“Trespassers are posing serious biosecurity risks by potentially bringing contaminants and diseases on to properties that could wipe out an entire farming operation,” he said.
Farming organisation NSW Farmers welcomed the move, emphasising farm invasions were a biosecurity risk.
NSW Farmers president James Jackson said: “Biosecurity is critical to farmers, it ensures our market access and minimises disease risk to provide high quality welfare outcomes.”
He added the Government action demonstrated its commitment to helping protect farmers’ biosecurity.
It came as the federal parliament was set to consider new laws creating an offence for using the internet to ‘incite’ trespass on farms.
Mr Jackson welcomed the action by both governments, stating the current legislative framework was ‘not effective’ and new laws were needed.