Government commits to new fines for activists

Activists to face on-the-spot fines


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Animal rights protests have taken place across the nation to mark the one year anniversary of the Dominion documentary. Picture: AAP.

Animal rights protests have taken place across the nation to mark the one year anniversary of the Dominion documentary. Picture: AAP.

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The state government has committed to cracking down on 'animal rights zealots' with on-the-spot fines.

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The state government has committed to cracking down on 'animal rights zealots' invading farms in illegal protests, but the opposition has labelled their plan as weak.

Agriculture Minister Mark Furner and Police Minister Mark Ryan on Sunday announced new regulations would give police and agriculture department officers the power to issue on-the-spot fines.

Mr Furner said the fines would be a faster penalty than pursing trespass charges, however he did not say how much the fines would be.

"Everyone has the right to protest, but nobody has the right to break the law," Mr Furner said.

"As a consequence of this new and completely inappropriate era of activism, the Palaszczuk Government is drawing a line in the sand."

Mr Furner said the new fines would be introduced with a matter of urgency and the government had already begun drafting a new regulation. 

"We are getting tough on farm invaders because their actions are dangerous," he said. 

"Activists have clearly taken the view that it is financially viable for them to break the law under existing regulations.

"That's about to change."

The ministers also announced a joint taskforce between the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Queensland Police Service intelligence unit to focus specifically on animal activism.

Mr Furner said the joint taskforce would work proactively to reduce the impact of activist farm invasions, and put processes in place to de-escalate these situations and maintain the safety of everybody concerned.

"It will also be supporting livestock premises with procedures for collecting evidence during and after such incidents," Mr Furner said.

Opposition agriculture spokesman Tony Perrett said it had taken far too long for Annastacia Palaszczuk to act, and that the LNP wanted to see much stronger penalties. 

"This has all gone too far. Queensland farmers should not be held to ransom by animal extremist groups," Mr Perrett said.

"While Labor are still cobbling together a plan, animal activists are terrorising law-abiding family businesses who put food on our table and create local jobs in our regions.

"These extremists have shown time and time again that they are more than happy to cop the slap on the wrist and have their fines paid without the threat of any real punishment.

"In NSW, nine protestors were (today) arrested for invading an abattoir, but in Queensland three sheep were taken hostage and used by animal activists to negotiate their demands with the business owners and police."

Queensland Farmers' Federation chief executive officer Travis Tobin said the announcement of on-the-spot fines and the joint taskforce was a start but further action was necessary.

"We've been a bit frustrated with the fact that it's taken too long for governments at all levels to respond to this because protections just aren't there," he said.

"There's no deterrents for these people, that's the problem."

QFF has been calling for stricter penalties for over a year, but Mr Tobin said they're not prescriptive about what they'd like to see.

"For us, it's about getting a more rapid response to a problem that provides the protections for farmers that they should be getting, and provides the deterrents to these people that should be there, but they're not," he said.

Mr Tobin said it wasn't fair that farmers were being advised not to respond when faced with protesters. 

"This sort of activity is causing people to do things out of character and that's why we all should be wanting to see it stopped as quickly as possible," he said.

"It's not just industry, it should be in government's interest as well to make sure we are living in a civil society, and these things aren't happening to anyone because they're not really appropriate."

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