Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has welcomed the introduction of new penalties against protesters who choose to invade hard-working farmers’ property.

Ms Cooke said primary producers have every right to carry out their lawful work without living in fear that self-appointed vigilantes will trespass on their land, create biosecurity hazards or disrupt normal farming activities.

“I absolutely welcome these new penalties which are designed to stop activists in their quest to destroy legitimate industries and the hard-working communities they support,” Ms Cooke said.

“Farmers work themselves into the ground to make sure their livestock are well cared for and are thriving.

“These so-called protesters only wish to intimidate and bully farmers, cause destruction, and feed their own selfish desire for 15 minutes of fame under the misguided notion that they are ‘helping’ animals.

“Today the Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall have taken an important step in stopping these bullies by imposing on-the-spot $1000 fines for trespass.

“Biosecurity is key to the ongoing viability of NSW agriculture and is extremely important to farmers. Now if an activist takes it upon themselves to invade someone’s property which is in violation of their biosecurity plan, then they will be guilty of an offence.

“Not only will it be a $1000 fine, but Courts will have the ability to impose further fines of $220,000 or even $440,000 if a corporation is to blame.

“Activists who want to cause trouble for farmers in the Cootamundra electorate are on notice – this is step one. We are looking at even more penalties to protect farmers who produce the food and fibre we need to ensure that not only are we fed and clothed as individuals, but that NSW can thrive economically.

“Farmers have had enough, my constituents have had enough and so has the NSW Nationals in Government. If anyone has welfare concerns, report them to the appropriate authority like the RSPCA.”

Under the changes to the Biosecurity Regulation 2017 it will become mandatory for site visitors to comply with a Biosecurity Management Plan. Anyone who enters a designated biosecurity area without permission and without complying with the plan’s requirements may be guilty of an offence under the Biosecurity Act 2015, and subject to the new, harsher penalties

The new penalties will come into effect August 1, 2019. Authorised officers such as NSW Police will be able to issue $1000 on-the-spot fines. Further penalties will be available to Courts, including $220,000 for individuals and $440,000 for corporates.

To access the new offence, farmers will need to have a biosecurity plan in place and appropriate signage. Farmers are encouraged to contact the Department of Primary Industries or their Local Land Services office for more information.

Go to www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurityact for more information.