23 July 2019 – New anti-trespass laws due to come into force in NSW next month are excellent news for the state’s agribusiness sector, including meat processors who have been relentlessly targeted by activists, the Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) says.

The new legislation is part of a significant shakeup of the State’s Biosecurity Act. It creates a new offence resulting in on the spot fines and further potential penalties up to $220,000 per person and $440,000 for corporations. The legislation will apply to anyone trespassing in areas where a Biosecurity Management Plan is in place, including processing facilities.

In addition to the new NSW legislation, the Federal Parliament is about to consider new laws which would make it an offence to use the internet to incite trespass on farms. Earlier this year the Federal Government announced a crackdown on activism which included bringing agribusiness-shaming website Aussie Farms under the purview of the Privacy Act, which comes with potential penalties of up to $400,000 for breaches.

AMIC CEO Patrick Hutchinson says the state and federal government are to be congratulated on the moves, which follow repeated calls for action from AMIC and other industry groups.

“For our members, activism is not only a threat to biosecurity but to the very future of the sector and the 200,000 direct and indirect jobs it provides across the country. The sector is worth $22 billion annually and meat is the seventh-largest export commodity in the country. In many regional areas, the local meat processing facility is the biggest employer in town,” he says.

“It’s important that we tackle the challenge of illegal activism and trespass from a number of angles so we can protect our industry and the thousands of businesses that want to get on with running their operations.”

Mr Hutchinson noted that AMIC is keen for confirmation that any new legislation to protect the agribusiness sector applies across the entire supply chain.

“At both federal and state level we generally see references to farmers being protected. We hope that this is simple detail and that all businesses in the supply chain will be covered. AMIC reminds federal and state leaders that in recent times many processing facilities and butcher shops have been damaged or interrupted.”