South-west farmers will be able to feel safer on their own properties, according to a local MP, with the state government finally moving to strengthen farm trespass laws.
The commitment comes in response to the final report of the Inquiry into the Impact of Animal Rights Activism on Victorian Agriculture, which was established by the state opposition to better protect our farmers.
Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell said it was a win for farmers that do the right thing and look after their animals.
"These hard working farmers became the target of animal activists who accused them of animal cruelty and all sorts of other crimes, then they got away with it because laws were too weak," Ms Britnell said.
"The committee heard from local people at hearings in Warrnambool who showed to them that animal care is paramount in the majority of farming operations.
"I thank Lisa Dwyer, Georgina Gubbins, Oonagh Kilpatrick, Bernie Free and Chris O'Keeffe who all gave compelling evidence to the committee at those local hearings.
"Their evidence has guided the committee to make this recommendation and forced the government to accept and implement it."
Ms Britnell said trespass is trespass and anyone found guilty should feel the full force of the law.
"Establishing and enforcing on-the-spot fines will go a long way to restoring farmers' confidence and fixing Victoria's broken farm trespass laws," she said.
"The Andrews Labor Government must not delay and bring these new laws into place as soon as possible."
The Victorian Farmers Federation is pleased the government has accepted a recommendation to introduce on-the-spot fines for animal activists who invaded farms, but say the proposed changes do not do enough to protect farmers.
VFF vice president Emma Germano said the VFF strongly advocated for the introduction of fines to deter the illegal activity of animal activists.
"A farmer's farm is their home. We want the laws and penalties that apply to a home invasion in Melbourne to apply to our homes in the country," she said.
"We want the Victorian government to implement what they have done in NSW by issuing $1000 on-the-spot fines for activists illegally entering farms and penalties up to $440,000 for groups and corporations.
"Currently, it's entirely possible, even likely, that trespassers could still be issued fines as low as $1, just as we saw occur last year at the Gippy Goat Cafe and farm.
"We need to safeguard our farmers by ensuring our current laws are preventing and deterring activists from trespassing on farms. As long as we have such trivial penalties the laws won't be having the desired impact."
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