The Nationals WA have welcomed the Federal Government’s move to deter criminal animal activists and reiterated calls for the McGowan Government to make State legislation a priority.
Leader Mia Davies said new legislation – introduced by The Federal National Party late last week – showed the Commonwealth was taking the concerns of the agricultural sector seriously.
“Federal Agricultural Minister Bridget McKenzie has recognised the seriousness of this issue, which is impacting farms and businesses right across Australia, and has taken action to protect farmers from unlawful activity,” Ms Davies said.
“The Federal Liberal-National Government has progressed this legislation in a timely manner since the election, and the Minister has found time to visit Western Australia and meet with concerned stakeholders.”
Ms Davies said in the same timeframe the McGowan Labor Government had not achieved anything to protect farmers from criminal activists.
“More than seven months since these attacks by criminal activists began – attacks which have expanded from farms to cafes, restaurants, supermarkets and even schools – the Premier still has his head in the sand,” Ms Davies said. “It’s been all talk and no action from Labor.”
Agricultural spokesperson Colin de Grussa said the newly introduced Federal legislation would make it a criminal offence for activists to incite illegal activity online and would carry a penalty of up to five years imprisonment.
“It is clear these criminal activists are using the internet as a tool to incite their anti-agricultural agenda,” Mr de Grussa said. “Known criminal activists and associated groups are using Facebook to promote disruptive and illegal events and they aren’t shy about it either.
“The Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019 will criminalise that behaviour, making it illegal for these groups and individuals to promote events aimed at trespassing, property damage or theft on agricultural land.”
Mr de Grussa said farmers and regional communities were still waiting for the McGowan Labor Government to take action on this issue.
“It’s utter apathy from the Premier. He doesn’t care about our State’s agricultural industry and has failed to make this matter a priority,” Mr de Grussa said.
“What the McGowan Labor Government doesn’t understand is that there must be consequences for illegal behaviour. Farmers and their families deserve to be protected. They aren’t the ones breaking the law.”
The Bill was introduced into the House of Representatives in the first sitting of the new Parliament and has now been referred to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee. Submissions are open until 31 July, and can be made confidentially in writing or online. There will also be public hearings held by the Senate Committee later in the year. More information on how to put forward a submission can be found here.