House debates

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Questions without Notice

Biosecurity

2:25 pm

Photo of Russell BroadbentRussell Broadbent (Monash, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development. Will the Deputy Prime Minister update the House on how the government is ensuring that farmers—from Gippy Goat at Yarragon to my many, many dairy farmers who feel under pressure—are getting the security they need to grow our nation's food and fibre?

2:26 pm

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Leader of the Nationals) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Monash for his question in relation to issues having an effect on regional Australia and on our hardworking farmers, who are the world's best environmentalists and the world's best land carers. Regional development is important to our farmers; it's important to our government. The member for Monash knows full well the risk of biosecurity breaches caused by animal activists—criminals—illegally trespassing on farms. They're breaking the law. Australian agricultural experts estimate that an outbreak of highly contagious animal diseases would cost our agricultural industry up to $16 billion. That's more than a quarter of what the industry is worth. Anyone who intentionally puts one of Australia's most important industries at risk should be thrown in jail for a very, very long time.

In the member for Monash's electorate, the Gippy Goat Cafe in Yarragon was invaded by 70 activists. They stole three goats from the property. Goodness knows what they did with them! The cafe chose to close, with the owners blaming constant harassment by abusive vegan activists. The green-collar criminal who was found guilty—

Hon. Members:

Honourable members interjecting

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Leader of the Nationals) Share this | | Hansard source

Listen to this! The chamber should be quiet to listen to this. The green-collar criminal who was found guilty was fined just $1 by the magistrate. That magistrate needs to go back to magistrates' school. This is an outrage. It is an absolute disgrace.

Honourable members interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Hunter is now warned.

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Leader of the Nationals) Share this | | Hansard source

I can flick it to him if he's that short of cash, Mr Speaker.

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Leader of the Nationals) Share this | | Hansard source

Our government has listened to the concerns of farmers and we have acted to secure their properties, to secure their homes and their livelihoods. Their farms are critical and crucial to our nation and they should be protected. Most Australian farms are family owned and operated. They're good people. I come from a generational farming family and I know how hard our farmers work. They deserve our respect. If you illegally storm a farm, we will throw the book at you.

Under the new legislation, if you're found guilty of using personal information of farmers to incite trespass, you will face up to a year in jail, as you should. If you go a step further and incite damage or theft on agricultural land, you could be—and should be—living in a jail cell for the next five years. You shouldn't be allowed out in those five years. We are taking this very, very seriously. I commend the Attorney-General and the minister for water resources and drought for their work in helping to form this legislation. I hear the Opposition Leader say, 'It is bipartisan.' That is good, and that is as it should be. It's a shame that we had to drag you kicking and screaming to the Future Drought Fund. I also commend the state minister for agriculture in New South Wales, Adam Marshall, who is in the House today. This week the New South Wales government announced $1,000 on-the-spot fines for individuals—and further fines of up to $220,000 per person and $440,000 for corporations—who illegally enter farmers' properties creating biosecurity risks. Our farmers need protecting. We're doing just that.

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Before I call the member for Port Adelaide, I remind the members for Hunter and Moreton to cease interjecting. The member for Hunter has been warned. The member for Moreton—who I regularly ask to cease interjecting, only to have him agree with me—that's it for the rest of the day, okay? The member for Chisholm.

Photo of Gladys LiuGladys Liu (Chisholm, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is—

Opposition members interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Sorry, the member for—

Government members interjecting

No, no, no. Members on my right will cease interjecting or I will give them two in a row. The member for Hindmarsh was on his feet.