My adjournment matter tonight is for the Attorney General and concerns the evident inadequacy of the current laws and their implementation by the courts surrounding farm biosecurity, the repercussions for breaching them and the failure to deter or punish offenders.

Aggressive animal activism is dangerously on the rise putting at risk the security and well-being of farmers and livestock across the State.

This was recently demonstrated by activities such as the creation of the intrusive Aussie Farms Interactive Map identifying farms in my electorate and the theft of goats from the Goat Café at Yarragon.

Unfortunately, it has become apparent that the existing laws and magistrates who are charged with enforcing proper law and order in this State are failing to rectify this abuse of farmer’s rights.

One of the malicious perpetrators of the Gippy Goat Café theft, was found guilty of removing an identifying ear tag from a goat she stole and also for not having a Property Identification Code for her home that housed numerous farm animals for which she had fitted nappies!

The magistrate’s response to theft was two apply $1 fines for offences which carry penalties of $9671 due to the inherent biosecurity risk.

The thief was also ordered to pay $250 compensation to the farmer despite the stock having an estimated value of $2000.

Two other participants in the theft were found guilty but escaped conviction receiving only a six month good behaviour bonds.

Clearly, these laws and their application offer no effective deterrent or punishment and are inadequate to ensure the proper protection of property and wellbeing of our farmers and their animals. 

Such court actions give a green light to criminals seeking to threaten and trespass on the livelihood, biosecurity, animal welfare and private property of farmers.

The action I seek from the Minister is to stand up for the farmers in my electorate and across Victoria to ensure the penalties for farm theft and biosecurity risk fit the serious crimes currently being perpetrated.

20 March 2019