“Right to Farm Bill” aims to criminalise woodchip protests

The South East Region Conservation Alliance (SERCA) is warning that the Right to Farm Bill 2019[1] currently before the NSW Parliament is a covert attack on peaceful protests to protect forests.

The Right to Farm Bill 2019 includes forestry as an agricultural activity and makes any activity that hinders, or attempts or intends to hinder it an 'aggravated offence' liable to a $22,000 fine or imprisonment for 3 years if a person entering “inclosed lands” is accompanied by 2 or more other people.

"Inclosed” lands are defined[2] to include State forests and woodchipping operations where they are fenced or defined by a natural feature, which includes most State Forests.

Even to incite or induce people to enter a State Forest could carry a $11,000 fine or imprisonment for 12 months.

SERCA Deputy Convener Harriett Swift said: “I am one of quite a few local conservationists who have convictions for ‘entering inclosed lands’ because I have entered the chipmill for protests.”

“Had I carried out these actions under the new Bill I might well have ended up in jail,” Ms Swift said.

“At a time when protecting forests is increasingly recognised worldwide as a critical measure to slow climate change, this Bill is not in the public interest.

“Fifty years of woodchipping have taken a heavy toll of the forests and their unique wildlife, and many of us are keener than ever to stand up for them.”

"The Berejiklian Government is hiding behind so called “rights to farm” as a covert way to criminalise forest protests." Ms Swift said.

The Bill is currently before the Legislative Council Portfolio Committee No. 4 Industry. Submissions close Tuesday, 1 October 2019.  You can lodge a submission at: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/inquiry-details.aspx?pk=2553#tab-submissions

26 September 2019