Federal Nationals frontbencher David Littleproud has accused the states of doing “bugger all” to stop animal activists invading farms.
But Labor has questioned whether the Commonwealth is overstepping the mark, with NSW already preparing to introduce Australia’s toughest laws against vegan vigilantes.
The Morrison government will this week introduce tough new penalties for activists who incite destructive break-ins, including up to five years in prison.
“Sadly, our state governments have done bugger all,” Mr Littleproud told ABC Radio on Monday.
“Those that provide the information to those perpetrators are just as guilty, in terms of infringing the rights of Australian farmers, as those that walked on that farm.”
The opposition supports the intention of the bill – to protect farmers from trespassers – but is worried it may have unintended consequences.
Labor’s agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon is concerned the laws could affect journalists, whistleblowers and farmers opposed to issues like coal seam gas.
“If Channel Nine runs a video on its website and the story somehow inadvertently incites a trespass are they exempt under this bill? They are not,” he told ABC radio.
“We will allow the carriage service laws to be beefed up as long as the bill as drafted doesn’t produce a number of unintended consequences and does not unnecessarily make the law more complex.”
The opposition believes there is also significant overlap between the bill and existing state laws.
“This is almost entirely in the jurisdiction of the states and you see the states are beefing up their trespass laws,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
NSW is promising to slap farm invaders with spot fines of up to $220,000 and threatening corporations who breach biosecurity laws with $440,000 penalties.
“Vigilantes who are entering our farmers’ property illegally are nothing short of domestic terrorists,” NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro told The Daily Telegraph.
“Our farmers have had a gutful. They don’t deserve, nor have time, to be dealing with illegal trespass and vile harassment from a bunch of virtue-signalling thugs.”