Vigilante animal activists could face up to 12 months in prison for sharing personal information which allows them to target and trespass on farms, if the current Australian government is re-elected.
A joint statement from Australian attorney general Christian Porter and Australian minister for agriculture David Littleproud this week said that the government would introduce a new offence designed specifically to protect farmers and primary producers from the unlawful actions of animal activists.
Porter said: "We have seen with Aussie farms the malicious use of personal information, including farmers' names, addresses and workplaces, designed specifically to encourage others to trespass on properties and damage businesses.
"This is not acceptable and the Morrison government will, if re-elected, introduce a new criminal offence specifically designed to protect Australian farmers from the sort of vigilante action we have seen this week.
"Penalties of up to 12 months imprisonment will apply to individuals who use a carriage service, such as the internet, to disclose personal information with the intention that another person would use that information to trespass on agricultural land. The law would also apply to other primary producers such as abattoirs,” he said.
He also said the new laws would include appropriate exemptions for bona-fide journalists and for situations where the information being released shows a law being broken, such as whistleblowing on animal cruelty.
Minister for agriculture David Littleproud said farming families deserved protection.
"I've been fighting this Aussie Farms attack map for activists for months and this is a great day," he said.
"If you use the personal information of our family farmers to incite trespass then you deserve to go to jail. Farming families grow our food and there are children on these farms.
"Now states must beef up farm trespass laws. If 100 of my mates stormed a house in Sydney we'd expect to be locked up and farmers deserve the same protection.
"The Morrison Government will always protect farmers, whilst ensuring that those who do mistreat their animals face appropriate action."
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