STEPPING UP TO KEEP THEM OUT: Shadow minister Dale Last said he introduced the bill to stop
STEPPING UP TO KEEP THEM OUT: Shadow minister Dale Last said he introduced the bill to stop "militant extremists.” Bianca Hrovat

'PROTECT OUR FARMERS': Tough new penalties for trespassers

TENSIONS are running high after threats of animal activism target the Southern Downs this weekend, prompting the push for Queensland to introduce the harshest trespassing penalties in the country.

The Queensland Parliamentary Committee is currently considering a bill that would create three new trespass offences with maximum penalties up to 10 years' jail and fines of up to $391,650.

During his visit to Warwick, the man responsible for the bill, Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Dale Last, said a tougher stance was more important than ever after environmental groups created havoc across the state this week.

"It's just getting out of hand," he said.

"We need to protect farmers.

"It not only impacts their businesses but it takes a huge toll on some of these families, mentally and emotionally."

The emotional impact was clear across the Southern Downs last night as producers took to Facebook to express their fear and anger.

"Have these people nothing better to do than to make life harder for our farmers?" asked commenter Wes Jackson.

"Remember, everyone, we feed you."

Gladfield resident Holly Coupe stationed herself by the Cunningham Highway to look out for suspicious vehicles entering the area.

Meanwhile, Killarney producer Kyle Savage commented that police had been checking security at local properties and seemed to take the threat seriously.

A spokeswoman for Queensland Police said there were no reports of animal activism in the Southern Downs last night, but Green Shirts Movement urged farmers to remain vigilant for an invasion "in the very near future."

The trespass bill will come up for debate in parliament around November and in the meantime, Mr Last is encouraging the state government to conduct public hearings in regional centres.

"They're resisting that at the moment and we think its because they don't want to hear what the answers are likely to be from the communities impacted by these extreme activists," he said.

"They're taking evidence from around the state at the moment and there's certainly been widespread support from industry bodies such as Queensland Resource Council, Ag Force and Queensland Farmers Federation.

"There needs to be a clear message to say what they're doing won't be tolerated and they can expect to bear the full brunt of the law."



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