NORTH Queensland-based Senator Susan McDonald did not mince words when speaking in support of tough new farm trespass laws that have been passed in Federal Parliament this week.
Senator McDonald said the Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill showed farmers that Australians were on their side. This Bill makes it a criminal offence to publish material, via a carriage service like the internet, to incite trespass, property damage or theft on agricultural land. Animal activists who use the personal information of family farmers to incite trespass risk imprisonment of up to five years.
Senator McDonald told the Senate she had spoken to a feedlot operator at Milmerran in South West Queensland this year who was still in visible distress days after vegan extremists invaded his property en masse and refused to leave.
She also visited an abattoir at Yangan that was invaded by vegan protesters and a butchery in Taringa that was vandalised.
“These farmers and businesses feel threatened, they fear for the safety of their staff and they fear losing their livelihoods,” she said.
“A tiny minority of activist thugs are intimidating, bullying and threatening hard-working people in legitimate businesses, so governments couldn’t continue to stand by without applying more protections.
“Simply ignoring this kind of activity has emboldened participants to go to ever- increasing extremes of protest, and I believe we had a duty to act.”
In her speech to the Senate supporting the laws, Senator McDonald said the actions of anarchists to impose radical views on those they disagree with was unacceptable.
“If you have an opinion that diverges from that of the cultists, they don’t just want to disagree with you, they want to destroy you, your family and your livelihood,” she said.
“Aided by the internet and soft laws, these people have ridden roughshod over Australians’ sense of decency and fairness.
“Their greatest weapon … is the internet, and using it to incite others to carry out protests – legal and illegal – is why we need new laws.
“These laws don’t ban legitimate protest, they don’t seek to punish legitimate whistleblowers, and they don’t prevent legitimate journalistic inquiry. But the keyword here is ‘legitimate’.
“If you attack farmers, you attack the very fibre of Australia and that is unacceptable.
“During a time of repeated anti-farming legislation from State Labor Governments, and this time of dry, it has never been more important that we stand behind our Australian farmers and say ‘we need you’. Because we do.”
Inquiries: Julian Tomlinson, media adviser to Senator McDonald. Ph: 0421059187