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