Newly elected Prime Minster Scott Morrison has called out dealing with farm invasions as an early priority for a new Liberal/National Government. Agriculture and Water Resources Minister David Littleproud has also been a strong and clear defender of the rights of farmers to be able to operate legal businesses without those who oppose them invading workplaces and tactics to stop operations.
The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) and Australian Forest Contractors Association (AFCA) are asking the Liberal/National Government to also include locations in which forestry harvesting is in progress, in any policy development designed to allow rural Australians to conduct themselves safely and lawfully in agricultural worksites.
“The activist attacks on farms across Australia last month were a major infringement on the rights of farmers and seriously compromised their ability to operate safely. While this spate of attacks brought the issue to the centre of national debate, sadly this sort of invasion activity is not new in forest industries. Like other parts of agriculture, invasions into our worksites bring great risks of accidents for protestors and workers. Rural workers also find the experience very distressing and see themselves as singled out for attack. No one disputes the right of others to protest, but it is wrong to invade worksites to make a political point,” AFPA CEO, Ross Hampton said.
“For decades forest workplaces have been subject to interference from activists. As recently as last week in Victoria, small forestry businesses suffered because of disruptive protest action over legal native forest harvesting,” AFCA General Manager, Stacey Gardiner said.
“In March, protestors in the Gippsland prevented a forestry contractor from accessing equipment needed to fight bushfires in the region. There have also been disruptions earlier in the year in Tasmania. This sort of activity is completely unreasonable and deserves attention.
“Our native forest and timber industries are some of Australia’s most renewable industries. Our methods of careful harvest and regeneration ensures future generations will have access to timber resources, which truly are, the ultimate renewable,” Ms Gardiner concluded.