Aussie Farms: Trespassers and controversial website comes under fire

CONCERNS: The right to farm and illegal trespassing onto farming properties are among the concerns of new Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW Adam Marshall. Photo: FILE
CONCERNS: The right to farm and illegal trespassing onto farming properties are among the concerns of new Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW Adam Marshall. Photo: FILE

THE right to farm and illegal trespassing are among the most pressing issues for farmers, Minster for Agriculture and Western NSW Adam Marshall says.

The Coalition Government announced on Friday it would bring the Aussie Farms website under the Privacy Act, exposing it to potential penalties of more than $400,000 if it breaches the Act.

The controversial website names and shames rural property across the Central West and Australia and it includes an interactive map featuring livestock farms, meatworks and dairies.

Hundreds of farms across the Central West are listed on the site and they include the names and address of each property.

Days after being sworn into office, Mr Marshall described the Aussie Farms website as "absolutely abhorrent".

LISTED: Hundreds of farms across the Central West have been listed on the Aussie Farms website. Image: AUSSIE FARMS

LISTED: Hundreds of farms across the Central West have been listed on the Aussie Farms website. Image: AUSSIE FARMS

"As if our farmers don't have enough to worry about at the moment, now they've got to be looking over their shoulder for people essentially spying on their actives," he said.

"There are groups out there that are actively in the public domain encouraging individuals to protest by trespassing onto farming properties, disrupting farming operation, chaining themselves to sheds or farm implements which is not only a huge risk to their personal safety but the safety and wellbeing of farmers and their families."

Just one day after the new penalties were announced, Queensland police broke up a protest at an abattoir in Warwick, while on Monday nine people were arrested following a protest at a Goulburn abattoir.

Mr Marshall said biosecurity was among his concerns when people trespassed onto farms.

"We can't just have people traipsing onto farms when we don't know where they've been, what they're bringing onto the property in terms of pests, diseases or plant matter," he said.

"This is actually a very, very serious issue and that is something I'm very keen as new ag minister to really put a big focus on very early on."

Mr Marshall said he was so concerned about the right to farm and illegal trespassing that he had issued a challenge to his ministerial department.

"I want some briefs on my desk very soon analysing the current existing legislation, the current regulatory framework of how we could potentially look at options of strengthening the existing laws," he said.

"Maybe we need to actually go down the path of introducing a brand new piece of stand-alone legislation to enshrine that right that primary producers have to be primary producers and use productive land for productive purposes."

Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW Adam Marshall

Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW Adam Marshall