Proposed vegan activist laws 'kneejerk' reaction: Lawyer
THE principal of a Toowoomba law firm has labelled a State Opposition proposal to toughen trespass laws a "kneejerk" reaction.
In a move backed by key agricultural bodies, the Private Member's Bill introduced by the Liberal National Party this week would mean activists charged with new criminal offence "serious criminal trespass" could face up to 10 years in prison or a fine of nearly $400,000.
Serious criminal trespass is one of three new offences the bill proposes, the others being aggravated trespass and organised trespass.
The LNP proposed the bill in the wake of a surge in animal activist protests, including incidents near Millmerran and Yangan.
Creevey Russell Lawyers principal Dan Creevey labelled the proposal "political grandstanding".
"This is just a kneejerk reaction and is not a sensible solution to address this important issue," Mr Creevey said.
"It takes away the gravity of the trespassing and would just make martyrs of the activists while removing the high moral ground from the farmers who are the victims."
The State Government last month amended laws to give police and agricultural officers power to issue on-the-spot fines to animal activists trespassing on farms and in abattoirs.
Mr Creevey said fines were a "weak deterrent" and offenders needed to come before the courts.
"If activists want to protest, they have a right to do so in a democratic society, but there are right ways and wrong ways to do things, and trespassing on land, and impacting businesses, is not the right way," he said.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin welcomed the bill.
"Significant fines, lengthy jail time, these are the only ways to stamp out this sophisticated, calculated, illegal behaviour," Mr Guerin said.
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