Farm trespassers face jail under new NSW laws.

THE NSW Government has announced the nation’s first jail terms for farm trespassers and will introduce tough new measures to protect ‘the right to farm’ from nuisance complainants.

NSW Nationals’ leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro today announced the State’s new Right to Farm Bill would, if passed, legislate jail terms up to three years for farm trespassers and fines up to $22,000.
New offences would be created for aggravating factors such as trespassing as a group, damaging property and releasing livestock and tampering with farm gates and ramps.

In a first for the farm sector, the NSW Government will also attempt to bring in legal recognition of a farmer’s right to farm, to protect farmers from “nuisance complaints”, claims and legal action from their neighbours and other third parties.

It means a court won’t be able to order an injunction against an activity that is allegedly causing a nuisance such as trucks moving chickens or spray rigs spraying crops.

The tough new laws have been hailed by the NSW Farmers’ Association, which has run a major campaign on the impact of farm trespass on businesses and rural families.

NSW Nationals’ leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the Bill would help address the increasing number of attacks on farming families.

“This legislation is all about sending the clearest possible message: enough is enough,” Mr Barilaro said.
“If you invade a farm in NSW you’ll face the toughest penalties in the nation and three years potential jail time.

“If you move next door to a farm and decide you don’t like the way it looks or sounds, then you won’t have the grounds to take that farmer to court with nuisance claims.”

Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said the changes include new offences that do not exist in any other state or territory.

“Existing penalties of up to $5500 in fines are just a slap on the wrist,” Mr Marshall said. “Now if you’re farming legally and have so for many years, you’re not going to cop a nuisance claim and potential legal action just because some folks from the city moved next door and decided they didn’t like the sound of your dairy cows.”

The Bill comes on top of recent regulatory changes introduced under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015, which impose further offences and large financial penalties for farm trespass which breach on-farm biosecurity plans.

Source: LUCY KNIGHT , The Weekly Times

Dairy Australia awards $312k in bonuses; spends $10k on coffee machine.

DAIRY Australia’s outgoing managing director Ian Halliday was paid $773,375 last year, including $312,000 in bonuses, more than three times the performance-based remuneration he received four years ago.

The farmer levy-backed marketing and research organisation also installed a $10,000 coffee machine in its Southbank headquarters, despite being surrounded by cafes, including one in the foyer of its Melbourne building.

A Dairy Australia spokeswoman said most of Mr Halliday’s increase was due to the payment of $312,000 in bonuses, on top of his base pay and superannuation of $461,375.

The financials state Mr Halliday was paid “a short-term incentive up to a maximum of 15 per cent of his remuneration package per annum and a long-term incentive up to a maximum of 15 per cent per annum”.

Mr Halliday’s bonuses had climbed steadily from $102,000 in 2014-15, to $168,000 in 2015-16 and then $235,000 in 2016-17 before hitting $312,000 last year.

Dairy Australia’s cash splash on its managing director was made despite dairy farmer incomes and confidence crashing over recent years as they battled to survive in acost-price squeeze that is forcing many out of the industry.

The annual National Dairy Farmer Survey has shown the proportion of farmers who feel “positive” or “very positive” about the future has slumped from 75 per cent in 2014, to just 47 per cent early last year.

The situation has grown worse in the past 12 months as feed and water prices skyrocketed with the latest survey, conducted in February this year, showing confidence has slumped to an all-time low.

“It indicates confidence is down (to) 30 per cent and a large percentage of businesses are in a holding pattern or are looking to contract,” Murray Dairy chief executive officer Jenny Wilson said.

Ms Wilson referred The Weekly Times to Dairy Australia for details of the survey, but a spokeswoman said it would not be released until the corporation issued its Situation and Outlook Report on June 19. What is clear is just how devastating the dairy crisis has become, especially in northern Victoria and the Riverina, where farmer numbers are down to 900, compared with 2800 in 2000-01.

Over that time regional milk production has fallen from 3.3 billion to 1.8 billion ­litres, with production in southern NSW and the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District forecast to be down by another 20 per cent by the end of this season. Dairy Australia’s2017-18 annual report stated remuneration for directors and Mr Halliday was externally benchmarked against general market data, but the levy-funded body refused to detail that market data.

In regard to the $10,000 coffee machine The Weekly Times asked: why did Dairy Australia spend such a sum, when Southbank was saturated with cafes, one of which is in the foyer of the 40 City Rd building?

A spokeswoman responded by stating: “Dairy Australia is focused on attracting and retaining people with the right talent and skills we need to best support Australia’s dairy industry. This extends to providing a safe, positive and productive working environment for our employees and increasing the functionality of our offices as a collaborative space.”

Dairy Australia has in recent years been plagued with occupational health and safety complaints.

These led to a third of its staff leaving last year, with one case making it all the way to the WorkCover Division of the Victorian Magistrate’s Court last year.

Details of the judgment are unavailable, but a number of disgruntled staff left Dairy Australia in 2017-18 in frustration at the failure to deal with OH&S issues.

Source: Peter Hunt - The Weekly Times