Senator for Victoria

Opinion

17

FOR many farmers, their farm is not just their business, but their home.
More than sheds and paddocks. 
Built with hard work, sweat and often tears, in many cases the culmination of generations of work.
That is what the new wave of animal liberationists are targeting, people's homes. 
They are invading and stealing farmers' property, allegedly in the name of animal welfare.
If I bought 120 mates to break into someone's house because I didn't like the tofu in the fridge I would be arrested. And rightfully so.
The time has come to bring civility, respect and understanding to this issue.
This isn't about vegans versus carnivores. 
People are entitled to their ethical choices and food preferences and I respect the right of peaceful protests in a liberal democracy.
But it is never acceptable to break into someone's place of work and home, interfere with their business, harass employees and steal their stuff.
When you trespass and steal you're not a protester, you're a criminal and deserve to be punished.
The situation has left farmers questioning their place in the industry, and others have left altogether.
Often they are too scared to raise incidents publicly for fear of putting a target on their backs and receiving payback attacks.
I have been contacted by farmers who have been subject to shocking treatment by invading activists.
Activists' actions have led to equipment damage, animal cruelty and animals dying. This is not how you protest animal welfare.
We need a system in place where farmers feel supported to raise these issues, knowing offenders will be dealt with.
While trespass laws are a state and territory responsibility, the Liberal and Nationals federal Government is sending a clear message to agri-vandals.
We have introduced the Criminal Code Amendment Bill into Parliament, criminalising the action of publishing material, via a carriage service, to incite trespass, property damage and theft on agricultural land.
If it is passed, animal activists risk imprisonment if they use the personal information of family farmers to incite trespass, with two new offences carrying a penalty of 12 months' and five years' imprisonment respectively.
We are serious about protecting the right to farm.
Not just farms per se but agricultural businesses across the supplychain, including abattoirs, feedlots, saleyards and private agricultural businesses such as fishers and foresters.
Regional Australians deserve to go to work, be proud of who we are and what we do.
A Senate inquiry is under way, and I encourage all who back our farmers' right to farm without threat of harassment and theft to put in a submission.
Submissions are due by July 31.
Ultimately, this Bill needs the support of Parliament. 
Labor has been missing in action in standing up for our farmers, fishers and foresters.
When Regional Australia and its industries are prosperous so too is our nation.
When civil societies are faced with extremism in any form, it's important to stand up and be counted.
Enough of the silence Albo and Joel. 
Now is the time.

 

 

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© Senator Bridget McKenzie 2014 | Authorised by Senator Bridget McKenzie, National Party of Australia, Bendigo Victoria 3550
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