Protesters who trespass on primary production land will now face tougher penalties under new laws that passed Parliament late yesterday.
Attorney-General, Vickie Chapman said the new laws would significantly increase the penalties for those found trespassing on farming land.
"Our farmers and food producers play a huge role in our economy and it is important there are suitable deterrents in place to protect these family businesses and supply chains," she said.
"Through these changes, vigilante activists who break into a farm to promote their cause will be held accountable for their actions – this Government will not tolerate disturbing livestock or destroying their property to make a point."
The new legislation includes the creation of a new, standalone aggravated farm trespass offence.
"Our previous trespassing offences didn't adequately cover the additional risks associated with livestock and agricultural properties," Ms Chapman said.
"This new offence acknowledges that individuals trespassing on primary production land and interfering with the conduct of the business, not only put the safety of people at risk, but also increase the risk of possible biosecurity and food contamination.
"Those found guilty could face a $10,000 fine or 12 months in prison, as well as paying compensation to the farmer."
Other legislative changes include:
- increasing the penalties for interfering with farm gates from $750 to $1,500 and introducing on-the-spot fines of $375 for this offence
- increasing penalties for disturbing farm animals to $2,500 or 6 months imprisonment
- doubling fines for other trespassing offences if they take place on primary production land.
"These are serious crimes that can have a devastating impact on farmers and their livelihoods - I'm pleased the Government has been able to pass these amendments and ensure South Australia's agricultural community will be protected going forward," Ms Chapman said.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Tim Whetstone said that the new aggravated farm trespass offence and stronger penalties will send a message to protesters or activists that in South Australia, if you break into a farm you will be penalised.
"Farm trespass poses a biosecurity risk in the supply chain which can have widespread consequences beyond a single property, so it is important we have measures in place to deter these actions," Minister Whetstone said.
"Our farmers are critical to the state's economy and that's why we are strengthening our trespass laws to recognise the additional risks that these protesters can have on primary production.
"I've been working closely with the livestock and agricultural industries to create stronger deterrents to protect the farming community and these law changes deliver that."
Member for Finniss David Basham, who has advocated strongly for the changes to more effectively deter illegal animal activism, said farms were more than just businesses meeting the ever-increasing demand in Australia and around the world for meat, egg and dairy products.
"In nearly all cases they are family homes, where often several generations have lived and worked," Mr Basham said.
"The very idea of attacking these families with invasion, property damage, threats and intimidation is completely abhorrent in our community and unacceptable. They deserve the full protection of the law and now they're going to get it.
"Eating meat and consuming other animal products is a perfectly legitimate choice in our free South Australian society and producing these commodities is an entirely legitimate enterprise which generates billions of dollars in our economy every year, contributing to the wellbeing of every South Australian." Keeping the law and our policies relevant is a key priority in the Government's Justice Agenda which can be found here.