The Federal Government has recently introduced the Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019, which targets animal activists who use a carriage service to incite trespass, property damage or theft on agricultural land. Some doubt the effectiveness of the bill given that inciting criminal activity via carriage services like phones or the internet is already an offence under federal telecommunications law. However, others argue that the proposed legislation is beneficial as it will increase awareness about the specific issue amongst law enforcement and the judiciary. The Bill prescribes up to one year imprisonment for using a carriage service to incite trespass on agricultural land and up to five years for inciting property damage or theft. The Bill is intended to protect Australian agricultural businesses, which can experience substantial income loss following trespass, theft, property damage and biosecurity breaches. However, trespass laws are predominantly a State issue and at present the States have different levels of legislation in place to tackle the problem. An agriculture ministers meeting is being held in October where State plans will be discussed. Contact M+E for further information about legal protections for farmers.

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