SPEAKING ON A BILL | CRIMES AMENDMENT (TRESPASS) BILL 2019
Mr Melhem: I support what Ms Shing said. The government will obviously be opposing the bill, not because we do not believe the issue is serious—or not serious, I should say. We believe the issue is very serious. We need to deal with it, and we are dealing with it. The simple reason and the simple fact is this: there is currently a reference from this house to a parliamentary committee to inquire into this very issue. That motion was moved by the coalition, not by Mr Bourman, not by the Animal Justice Party and not by the government. It was moved by the coalition. I mean the hypocrisy coming out of the coalition for political pointscoring!
Here we have already referred this very serious issue to a committee. We want to let the inquiry do its work. They referred it to the committee, which is due to report in the next few months, so allow the process to take its course. The committee will eventually come back with a number of recommendations, I have no doubt, to deal with this very issue. Now, the reason we are rushing to get a bill through this house today is because the current law does not deal with it. Well, that is not true. There is legislation in place to actually deal with this issue. If someone is trespassing, they can be issued a fine of $4000 and be imprisoned for six months under the Summary Offences Act 1966, with provisions for a fine of up to $59 480 or imprisonment for up to 36 months for people who enter or exit declared areas without permission under the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994. So there are existing laws to deal with this.
Mr O’Donohue criticised a magistrate about how he does his job. It is not the role of Parliament to tell judges what to do and what sentences they should hand down. This is called the separation of powers. Our job is to pass legislation; their job is to implement it and pass judgement. We cannot do both. Now, in relation to the right of farmers to be able to operate their farms without being harassed, I do not support the activists going on farms. I will say that now, I will say it tomorrow and I will say it every day. No-one has any right—and I do not care what the issue is—to go and basically invade. If we look at our farming community in this state, over 90 per cent of it is owned by small families. They are not huge corporations. They are a husband and wife or a couple with kids who are running their own farm, and they do not need to be harassed. They do not need to be invaded and be terrified. So I would not support the activists trespassing on these farms, and I support that the law should be implemented in full against these people.
My family owns a 60-acre farm. We have got animals on that farm. I know all the farmers. They are all mums and dads; they are all families. They do not need to be harassed. I do not want anyone to come near my animals. I love my cows, I love my horses, and I look after them. I know that 99.99 per cent of farmers in this state and this country love their animals. I have not met a farmer who does not like his or her animals—they do. There is an argument about live trade, for example, to the Middle East. There is a debate on that. I think it is the right debate to have. There are certain people who actually are cruel to the animals. Mr Meddick made some very valid points in relation to that, and these people need to be dealt with. I accept that there is some violation from time to time, but the point here is this: there is a parliamentary inquiry which is doing some great work, and I think we should allow this inquiry to finish its work. It will come back to this house with its recommendations and findings, and out of that a bill can be put in place to actually deal with this issue. So it is not a matter of criticising Mr Bourman about what he is trying to achieve, but I think it is a matter of the timing of the legislation. If we need to have a revision of existing laws, let us wait for the inquiry and then go from there. So with those comments, I oppose the bill.