The state opposition has introduced amendments to the government's animal activism bill, to fix what it says are problems with the draft legislation.
Farmers wouldn't be better protected against illegal farm trespass crime unless amendments to the draft law were passed, Nationals leader Peter Walsh said.
Mr Walsh introduced amendments to the Livestock Management Amendment (Animal Activism) Bill 2021 to fix what he said were problems in the draft legislation that see farmer's river frontage land excluded from protection.
The amendments would also better deter illegal actions, by doubling the maximum fine for individuals, bringing Victoria in line with other states that have the nation's highest penalties.
"Parliament's farm trespass inquiry, spearheaded by Nationals' MP Melina Bath, exposed serious flaws in farm trespass laws," Mr Walsh said.
"In the worst case, an activist who illegally entered a farm, stealing livestock and threatening biosecurity, was fined just $1.
"Labor's penalties won't be a sufficient deterrent unless they're increased."
Mr Walsh said farmers with river frontage land would have that part of their farm excluded under the bill, with the coalition proposing minor changes that would mean all their farm was protected.
"Labor can't have it both ways - either it stands with Victorian farmers, or it stands with the extreme activists who are breaking the law and threatening the safety of our farm families," Mr Walsh said.
"Why should the penalties in Victoria be significantly less than other states?
"And why should farmers have their river frontage land excluded?"
He said failing to strengthen farm trespass laws would send the wrong message to extreme activists who will go to any lengths to destroy the livelihood of hard-working Victorian farm families.
But Ms Thomas rejected the claim, saying the bill allowed property owners to implement farm biosecurity management plans (BMPs), which could include measures such as requiring consent before entering a farm.
The bill included on-the-spot fines of $1272 for individuals, or $8178 for corporations, who breached the BMPs.
That compared with NSW, where the maximum infringement penalty for a specific biosecurity breach was $1000and in Queensland it was $689.
"Victoria's on the spot fines for animal activists who trespass on farms will be the toughest in the nation," Ms Thomas said.
"Our Government is protecting our farmers and agricultural businesses - as well as their families - from the biosecurity risks and distress that breaches from trespassers can pose."
The government confirmed under the bill a BMP would not apply to licenced Crown water frontages.
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