Summary Offences (Trespass on Primary Production Premises) Amendment Bill
Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (15:56): I rise today to support the Summary Offences (Trespass on Primary Production Premises) Amendment Bill. I am pleased to hear that the opposition is also prepared to support this bill. I will declare an interest at this stage of the debate: for 30 years prior to coming into this place I was an active farmer. We ran livestock on our property and, in fact, the property is share-farmed by my son-in-law and his brothers, but we still run sheep on the property.
Across the country, there has been a huge surge in antifarm activism. This has predominantly occurred in the Eastern States, and South Australia has remained somewhat protected from this activism. That said, some of our farmers have experienced trespass, halting their primary production and impacting their ability to manage their farms. I think the member for Hammond—if he has not already—will talk about the incident that occurred at the Strathalbyn abattoir. It is interesting that many of these activists do not travel too far from major metropolitan areas. For that reason—and I think the member for Giles mentioned it when he was talking about his trip to Buckleboo the other day—the more remote places, the more remote livestock producers, are less likely to see visits from animal activists.
Those who seek to be negligent and do damage to our farmers and primary producers must take responsibility for their actions and their impact on our local farmers. This bill seeks to do that. South Australia’s primary industries are a vital part of our state’s economy. Spread across the state, South Australia’s grain, livestock, horticulture, wine, seafood, forest and dairy sectors are significant contributors to our exports.
Remember that the farmers who are producing livestock—and essentially we are talking about livestock activities here because that seems to be the activity that has gained the ire of our activists—are actually running a business. They are running a legitimate and legal business. They are producing income for themselves and their family and they are producing income for the state through both the domestic market and the export market. Almost all these farmers also live on the farm where they do business, so people need to be conscious and cognisant of the fact that not only are they entering a property but they are entering a business and often a home as well.
Numerically, in 2017-18 primary industries and agribusiness supported 152,000 jobs and contributed almost $20 billion to the state’s economy. Regional South Australia, where many of our primary producers are of course, contributes about $25 billion to the state’s economy with just 29 per cent of the state’s population and engages about one in five working Australians.
Primarily, we are talking about livestock industries in relation to this bill, and the major livestock industries of this state include beef, sheep, pig and chicken meat, with a total primary production value of $1.89 billion. There are over 11 million sheep, but I remember a time when it was up around 17 million. Our shearing gangs would have been busy then, member for Hammond. That has seen a drop after the collapse of the Wool Reserve Price Scheme, but slowly but surely the sheep numbers have lifted, although they are being impacted by the dry conditions. There are 950,000 head of cattle and 57 million kilograms of wool produced. Even though the wool market has been bouncing around a bit of late, it still remains relatively firm compared with where it was.
The member for Finniss will be familiar with and well versed in the dairy sector. It has had an 11 per cent increase in production value in 2017-18 to over $200 million, and the wool sector production is valued at $568 million in 2017-18. Combined, South Australia’s cattle and sheep industries generate $3.4 billion in revenue. South Australia’s beef industry alone grosses a revenue in excess of $1.3 billion, so we are not talking about insignificant industries that are potentially being impacted upon by visitations from activists.
Aquaculture also gets a mention in all of this. I have not known or been aware of any impact on any aquaculture ventures at this point. That said, much of South Australia’s aquaculture exists within my electorate of course, including oysters, kingfish, and tuna ranching, which is vertically integrated with the pilchard industry and processing. So, once again, perhaps geography and distance will prevent any issues at this point in time at least.
In 2017-18, the wild catch and aquaculture industries produced approximately 70,000 tonnes of seafood, generating a total revenue of over $500 million. Southern bluefin tuna is the state’s largest single aquaculture product, with international exports of over $100 million in 2017-18. The southern rock lobster is the state’s highest value fishery at $125 million and, if we add to that the northern zone rock lobster—which exists from Kangaroo Island and up the West Coast—you can see that they are significantly valuable industries.
We have recently seen in Australia the arrival of the Aussie Farms animal activist website. To anyone who wants to look at it, this website provides maps with the locations of meat-processing facilities, horseracing tracks, showground pens, dairies, chicken and pig farms, sheep and cattle properties and aquaculture sites, including those in South Australia. As I said earlier, farms are often the homes of families, mums and dads with young children, and it is important that people feel safe in their home and their workplace.
There are concerns—hence this legislation—that activists may now target South Australian farms with little appreciation or understanding of the biosecurity threats that unauthorised access can pose to industry, and the member for Finniss talked extensively about the biosecurity threats. Essentially, disease and weeds are being introduced potentially to properties that are otherwise free of them without any consideration of that biosecurity stance.
A strong and effective biosecurity system is a priority for the South Australian government. It is essential for maintaining and increasing access to international and domestic markets. Remember, we are essentially a primary production sector that exports, and there are huge markets and huge opportunities in Asia, of course, and we wish to maintain them.
Farmers are constantly improving their on-farm practices in recognition of consumer expectations and in response to up-to-date biosecurity and animal management advice. Good farmers look after their animals and rarely are animals neglected on a property. If they are, there is generally a reason for it and that can be determined and that particular property owner, business and farmer can be assisted.
Disruption to farming practices by protesters is an ongoing risk that needs to be managed in a sensitive and reasonable fashion, and our farmers need support to be informed about how to deal with these challenges, their rights and what steps they can take should their farms become targeted. There has been extensive consultation in the lead-up to this bill and I congratulate all members of the government for their work, and the Attorney-General and also the member for Finniss for their work in preparing this.
The stakeholders consulted were, in the broad, primary production industries as well as the justice sector and the general community. They included the Australian Chicken Growers Council, the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association, the Australian Meat Industry Council, the Commercial Egg Farmers Association of South Australia and Tasmania—there you go, a combined effort—the Commissioner of Police, the Law Society of South Australia, Livestock SA, Minister for Environment and Water, National Farmers’ Federation, Kangaroo Industries Association of Australia, PIRSA, Pork SA, Primary Producers SA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the South Australian Dairyfarmers’ Association. I commend the bill and I do expect that this adds an extra deterrent to people who might wish to interfere with others’ lives and businesses.