Time to give farmers more protection

Time to give farmers more protection


Opinion
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Many decent, hard-working Western Australians are rightly questioning whether this Labor State government has the mettle to stem the escalation of vigilante activity by animal activists flouting the law and creating havoc in the agricultural sector.

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Leader of The Nationals WA, Mia Davies.

Leader of The Nationals WA, Mia Davies.

MANY decent, hard-working Western Australians are rightly questioning whether this Labor State government has the mettle to stem the escalation of vigilante activity by animal activists flouting the law and creating havoc in the agricultural sector.

These activists are using the cloak of darkness to gain access to properties and breaching our food producer's sense of security and safety.

Truck drivers are being subject to the taunts of 'scum' and 'murderer' with activists crawling over their vehicles and obstructing their access to depots and the port.

Agents at the saleyards have seen protestors invade their workplace.

They are trespassing, harassing and stealing all in the name of some misguided philosophy that animals need to be liberated.

They are breaking the law.

My Nationals colleagues and I are deeply concerned by the McGowan government's inability to act in response to the rising threat of extreme animal activists.

In fact, their inaction has invigorated these activists, who just last week targeted properties in Narrogin, Beaufort River and Harvey.

In one recent video broadcast on Facebook, a recidivist activist flaunted his bail conditions which prevented him from entering a farm by remaining on the road just outside an abattoir - almost daring police to challenge his presence.

Under questioning from The Nationals in Parliament, government ministers have failed to clearly articulate a plan.

When pushed, they have sidestepped, grandstanded, avoided answering and sung the accolades of the Agriculture Minister.

We've asked the Premier, the Police Minister, the Attorney General and the Agriculture Minister to outline their government's response and we are still none the wiser.

One minute the Attorney General says a community order would not serve as an adequate deterrent, the next minute he is championing community orders as the best way to curb activist behaviour.

None of the answers seem to be consistent and we're yet to see legislation or a concerted effort to demonstrate they're committed to stamping out this appalling behaviour.

Our team has made it very clear that we want to see penalties for trespass increased and options to move people on who are not trespassing but harassing and intimidating people going about their lawful business.

We have asked for additional police resources, suggested the reformation of the stock squad and championed a review of drone legislation to prevent illegal surveillance of farms.

In April, having seen no real action from government, The Nationals moved a motion in State Parliament calling for an inquiry to examine the laws and penalties associated with trespass and rural crime and, ultimately, deliver some legislative outcomes.

We received no support from the Labor government but the Attorney General said he would bring legislation to cabinet within two weeks and introduce laws into parliament before the end of the sitting year.

Two months later, with animal activist vigilante attacks increasing, we're still waiting to see the legislation.

Just last month the Attorney General appeared to backtrack, stating, "My best guess is this year. A lot of legislation that should have been attended to is screaming for priority".

Frankly, that's not good enough.

If the Attorney General and the Premier are genuine about protecting our farmers then these new laws need to be fast-tracked and brought before the parliament straight away.

The community is sick and tired of the actions of these activists who continue to show an utter disregard for hard working WA businesses and families.

Farmers and food producers have the right to feel safe and secure in their homes and at their places of business.

They are not the ones breaking the law

The Nationals WA are calling on the McGowan government to urgently provide our farmers with the protection they deserve.

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