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May 16, 2021

Farm Bill to jail knitting nannas?

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Will Knitting Nannas go to jail? Photo Tree Faerie.

Aslan Shand

Farmer’s fears of trespass have been hijacked by the NSW government’s Right to Farm Bill 2019. Not only will the bill reduce the rights of people to protest against logging, but it will also restrict farmer’s own rights to object to projects on neighbouring properties.

‘These laws are directly aimed at criminalising protest and those exposing serious environmental breaches and animal cruelty,’ said Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge.

‘Trespass is already illegal in NSW and in 2016 the government imposed a large number of additional penalties to target protesters.

The bill quadruples the penalty for aggravated unlawful entry on inclosed lands from $5,500 to $22,000 and imprisonment.

‘The Right to Farm Bill 2019 includes forestry as an agricultural activity and makes any activity that hinders, attempts or intends to hinder logging an “aggravated offence”,’ NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.

‘In a time of climate emergency and an extinction crisis, it is an unprecedented and reprehensible assault on our civil rights, aimed at stopping actions to protect our public lands.’

Nature Conservation Council chief executive Chris Gambian said that peaceful protest is the cornerstone of a functioning democracy ‘but hidden within this bill are sneaky new laws which directly threaten that right.

‘This goes beyond just animal welfare activists on farms. These laws could see farmers who oppose coal and gas projects, communities who protest logging, or even someone who stages a silent protest in a bank in Sydney, face up to three years jail and massive fines. This includes farmers and knitting nannas protesting CSG, unions on worksites, communities protesting against logging in state forests, people staging a sit-in in corporate headquarters and more.

‘This is a clear attempt from [government] to shut down dissent everywhere.’


The Greens will be moving amendments to the bill ‘to protect the right to freedom of speech and political expression by adding a defence if the person was engaged in identifying, investigating or preventing serious criminal breaches of environmental or animal cruelty laws,’ said Mr Shoebridge.

‘Many of those targeted by these new laws will be farmers and rural landowners on neighbouring properties who are attempting to protect their own land and crops.’

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  1. This is a direct attack on a citizen’s right to peacefully protest, not a balanced response to the trespass on farms by animal right’s activists.

    How can the Nationals let this pass?

  2. Surely a deliberate attempt to strip away peoples’ right to peaceful protest with this threat of criminalising citizens. Our wonderful Knitting Nannas! I don’t knit but I am a farmer & a grandmother. Am I too to be jailed for trying to protect the few remaining native forests on the North Coast which are home to healthy koalas? Or protecting our valley from invasion by some corporation who turns their attention in our direction as we did with the unconventional gas industry in 2014? Is that what this is about?
    The Right to Farm Bill was instigated by members of the National Party in defense of questionable intensive ‘farming’ practices that fell foul of people’s concerns about animal welfare. Farmers are not calling for this Bill! Now this Bill has been hijacked by lobbyists for the timber industry. It has nothing to do with the right to farm. This is greedy players not content to have access to all our public native forests to log on a frankly industrial scale – because what they do is certainly no longer “farming” the forests – they are determined to plunder even those forests like Braemar 24ks south of Casino, forests recognized by government as high use koala habitat. I encourage everyone who values the natural world, our civil rights & our democracy, to call on the NSW government. “Don’t criminalise citizens trying to protect our environment, water, forests, koalas & so many other endangered wildlife”.

    • Well put Meg !
      We must now accept the fact , we have a fascist, rightwing government and control is thier agenda.
      Anybody who questions government corruption and the right of multinationals to plunder Australia at will, are to be criminalised. Don’t be surprised when those on social security payments are also officially designated as criminals, and not just treated that way in an informal, at arms length manner by sub-contracted “providers”, who are making a killing, while providing nothing to the benifit of the community.
      You only have to look at the way the government has treated Julian Asange or the recent raids on journalists,or in fact anybody that calls out their crimes . These scum have even attacked Greta, I fear for her safety as these are the same forces at work, that dealt rather harshly with a carpenter from Nazareth.

  3. Nailed Meg ! even Ken made a few decent points. This state government seems hellbent on curtailing a huge range individual rights and freedoms with no benefit for society. It is amazing the abortion bill was actually passed! Public protesting has helped changed public opinion and advanced many changes that should have been done anyway using common sense and justice – 40hr week, universal suffrage, land rights, wars, equal pay, forest protection, Franklin dam, heritage protection for buildings, better pay and conditions for a range of workers.

    The only things our current governments don’t show any inclination to control are the ethical treatment of animals, obscene rates of land clearing and limiting carbon emissions. Oh yer, controlling those would affect their big corporation mates and political donors.

  4. Sounds like the ex-departed Queensland Premier’s rebirthed
    to me. Nasty. State & Fed. Government control is getting
    close to the China syndrome – do as you’re told or else. Nix
    benefit to society just a game of scrabble by multinational
    pursed up pirates & a PM determined to build more jails
    for those who won’t shut up or the others protesting
    quietly. All along the watchtower…


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