ANIMAL activists that trespass on farmland will face heftier penalties as part of legislation passed in State Parliament yesterday.
Having been announced in August last year, the new legislation includes the creation of a new, standalone aggravated farm trespass offence, with those found guilty facing a $10,000 fine or 12 months in prison.
Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said the new laws would significantly increase the penalties for those found trespassing on farming land - which she said was a "serious" crime that could have "a devastating impact on farmers and their livelihoods".
Related reading:SA proposes tougher stance on farm invaders
"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," she said.
"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."
As part of the changes, penalties for interfering with farm gates have been increased from $750 to $1500, while an on-the-spot fine of $375 has also been introduced for this offence.
The fines for other trespassing offences that occur on primary production land have also been doubled, while penalties for disturbing farm animals have been increased to a $2500 fine or six months' imprisonment.
Ms Chapman said the previous trespassing offences "didn't adequately cover the additional risks associated with livestock and agricultural properties".
"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."
The very idea of attacking these families with invasion, property damage, threats and intimidation is completely abhorrent in our community and unacceptable.
Member for Finniss and former SA Dairyfarmers' Association president David Basham said farms were more than just businesses meeting the ever-increasing demand in Australia and across 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 SA 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."
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