State looks to improve activist response

State looks to improve activist response


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The State government has committed to reviewing legislation surrounding trespass and animal activism.

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 The Nationals WAs agriculture spokesman Colin de Grussa.

The Nationals WAs agriculture spokesman Colin de Grussa.

WESTERN Australia's Attorney General John Quigley has committed to reviewing legislation surrounding trespass and animal activism.

Speaking in Parliament last week, Mr Quigley said the community expected a legislative response.

"People look to their Parliament to respond, and we will," Mr Quigley said.

"It befalls me as Attorney General to accept that responsibility of a legislative response and to take it forward."

Mr Quigley said he was working on a Cabinet submission to deal with activists in the "most effective way that I know under law".

He said the submission was currently being drawn up and would be going to Cabinet within two or three weeks.

Mr Quigley said he did not want to go in to details about the submission but "I will get purchase on their future conduct and there will be no slip-sliding".

He mentioned restraining orders as a possible measure.

"These people are going onto farms because they sincerely believe in their conscience that it is the right thing to do," he said.

"We do not accept that it is the right thing to do, but they believe that.

"We have to get purchase on these people and restrain them from doing this."

Mr Quigley was speaking in response to a motion moved in the Legislative Assembly by The Nationals WA, that stated a select committee be established to, among other things, report on the effectiveness of current legislation to deter and combat illegal activity of animal activists and trespassers in rural WA.

While the motion was defeated, The Nationals WA agriculture spokesman Colin de Grussa said they had moved it because legislation needed to be reviewed to make sure it had the necessary protections for landowners and the general public.

"Basically what we wanted that committee to be charged with would be looking at all the legislation that surrounds animal activism, trespass, drones or whatever other legislation comes around the activities of these (activists)," Mr de Grussa said.

"We want to have a look at all of it, review that legislation to make sure it has the necessary protections for landowners and general public and also look at the penalties that can be imposed under those laws with a view to making sure that we can change the legislation if necessary to keep people in this State safe.

"We had a very strong view that this committee would be a real opportunity to make our legislation better in this State to keep people safe, and it is not just about animal activists, there were drone issues in Dianella only a few weeks ago where a woman was harassed with a drone as she was walking down the street.

"It is clear that change needs to happen across a lot of different portfolio areas here and we want to make that happen."

Mr de Grussa said he looked forward to seeing the details in Mr Quigley's submission.

"It is a start, we don't have a lot of detail so we don't know how much of a start it is," he said.

"The concern is that it is a penalty that will apply to someone who has already offended and it doesn't cover that safety aspect, but the devil will be in the detail.

"In saying that, using restraining orders isn't a bad idea, it is just a shame that it has taken three months of us banging on about it for him to do something.

"At the same time we welcome any measures that will hopefully make people safer.

"One thing that hasn't been addressed is drones and surveillance and that is still going to be a major problem."

Mr de Grussa said it may be a good time to look at how other jurisdictions legislate against animal activism.

"The United States has an animal enterprise terrorism act, which looks specifically at protecting animal enterprises from vandalism and terrorist acts that are being committed by these people," he said.

"The vast majority of people in Australia and the vast majority of vegans aren't activists and aren't wanting to shut down agriculture, they choose to not eat meat and that is fine.

"These activists aren't representative of these people either and what they are doing is committing acts of terrorism against our businesses."

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