MELBOURNE, AAP – Animal activists caught trespassing on Victorian farms will face fines of up to $10,904 per individual and more than $50,000 per organisation, under new laws.
The Livestock Management Amendment (Animal Activism) bill passed through parliament’s upper house on Tuesday night.
The bill aims to deter animal activists from trespassing on farms, with individuals who fail to comply facing on the spot fines of $1272 and $8178 per an organisation.
More serious offending could lead to fines of up to $10,904 for an individual and $54,522 for an organisation.
The measures follow an inquiry into the impact of animal rights activism on Victoria’s agriculture sector.
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Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said the penalties were among the toughest in Australia.
“Farmers and workers in the agricultural industry should be able to do their work without fear of being targeted by animal activists,” she said.
“This sort of activity is highly distressing for farming families and puts the biosecurity and safety of animals at risk.”
Two opposition amendments seeking to double the maximum penalty were thrown out on Tuesday night.
The amendments sought to raise the maximum fine for an individual to $21,809, bringing Victoria in line with the equivalent maximum fine in Queensland and NSW.
“Doubling the maximum fine would have sent a strong message to anyone considering trespassing on a farmer’s private property that Victoria won’t tolerate illegal farm invasions,” Opposition agriculture spokesman Peter Walsh said.
The bill will go to the governor for royal assent, with the fines expected to kick in later this year.