The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) and the Australian Forest Contractors Association (AFCA) welcome the passing of the NSW Government’s Right to Farm Bill with its new laws to crack down on farm invasions, mirroring the recent passage of the Federal Government in its similar regulation.

Chief Executive Officer of AFPA, Ross Hampton, said the passage of the NSW Bill and the Federal Government Bill both with the inclusion of forestry in both Federal and  State law, rightly recognises that forestry and forest product processing operations on private and public land are carried out in a completely sustainable and legal manner, just like other sectors of the rural economy.

Mr Hampton said, “This new Act will penalties for aggravated unlawful increase from fines of up to $5,500 to three years jail time and up to $22,000 in fines.  Our sector has been dealing with forest protests for decades. Small numbers of people, who usually live nowhere near the forestry operation, have been disrupting legitimate forestry work by aggressively invading harvest and regeneration sites. Now as a result of this new legislation, people going about their everyday working activities will have more protection than ever before.”

General Manager of AFCA, Stacey Gardiner, said, “This is great news for our businesses, many of whom are small rural businesses that are family run. They deserve the right to have their operations and livelihoods protected especially given that Australia has some of the most sustainable, highly regulated forestry practices in the world. Particularly when every stick of timber from public native forest is certified to the world’s largest global standard called Responsible Wood (under PEFC).”

Mr Hampton said, “This new legislation will support the already enacted Federal laws which cover the use of carriage services to promote, incite and organise an invasion of a rural workplace. We look forward to another states across Australia enacting similar legislation.”