Dalby pig producers Paul Maguire.
Dalby pig producers Paul Maguire.

Government vows to jail vegan activists

MEAT producers hope tough new penalties passed by the Queensland Government last week will deter animal liberation activists from trespassing on their farms.

The parliament increased the penalties for unlawfully entering a food production facility, a feedlot or a live export facility to a maximum fine of $60,000 or up to a year in jail.

Dalby pig producer Paul Maguire welcomed the move.

Protesters targeted his operation twice, prompting Mr Maguire to invest in extra security and surveillance.

"I am very happy to see the tougher penalties," he said.

"They are a huge improvement on what was there and hopefully they will deter protesters.

"Hopefully the fines and jail time comes to fruition because previously they have been given the minor punishment available."

Farm industry bodies pressured the government to up the penalties after a string of on-farm protests and abattoir sit-ins last year.

They included a highly publicised protest at Carey Brothers' Yangan Abattoir in April and a protest at the Lemontree feedlot in Millmerran.

Mr Maguire said the protests made producers reconsider their security hardware.

"Producers are a lot more aware of what is going on and there is lot more activity around surveillance and fencing," Mr Maguire said.

The legislation amends the Summary Offences Act 2005, the Biosecurity Act 2014 and the Exhibited Animals Act 2015 to include penalties.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the amendments meant possible jail for anybody going onto a farm without authorisation.

"Everybody has the right to feel safe and protected in their workplace and in their homes," Mr Furner said.

"While this government supports the right to protest lawfully, it is not acceptable for people to go onto private or commercial property without authorisation."

The laws also apply to showgrounds and sport facilities, where animals are stored.

Chay Neal, the executive director of Animal Liberation Queensland, rejected the changes and said they ignored what he saw as widespread cruelty in the meat industry.

"We don't need these new laws to target activists - we need new laws to target animal cruelty," he said

"We need to make it easier for authorities to prosecute, and we need to look at if the Department of Agriculture is even the right department to police animal welfare laws."

"It's time for the government to take animal cruelty seriously."