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Byron Shire
June 18, 2024

Nuisance shield laws to allow big agribusiness to avoid accountability

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New laws targeting environmental and animal activists have been introduced to the NSW Parliament, but they contain a hidden sting for farmers and rural property owners with poorly-considered changes that will make it harder to protect their own properties.

Clearing, cruelty, logging and mining

Amidst an epidemic of illegal land clearing, criminal animal cruelty, native forest logging and concern about mining operations, the NSW Government have stepped in with the so-called ‘Right to Farm’ laws to protect corporate agribusiness from protest and scrutiny.

Those affected by these laws will likely include many farmers who have been at the forefront of campaigns, including those against coal seam gas and aiming to protect farmland and water supplies.

The bill has two parts: one bit criminalises protest (that’s horrible but not today’s focus), the other provides a defence to ‘nuisance’ claims against agricultural enterprises – which we are discussing here.

This defence will apply where land is being used for a legal agricultural purpose, and will mean that neighbours cannot sue for nuisance. This means, a neighbour will not be able to approach a court for an injunction for an activity that is affecting their property.

Nuisance claims can be brought for things as diverse as spray drift from herbicides, the noise of truck movements as part of a logging operation, offensive odours from an abattoir or feedlot, or the spread of pollen from GMO crops into surrounding farms.

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.

This is because the defence applies whenever the property has to be used for any agricultural use for at least 12 months.

What it doesn’t protect against is when that use changes – for example, where grazing land is converted to intensive feedlots, where cropping is replaced with intensive chicken sheds, or where a small dairy farm is replaced with a large abattoir. In all of these cases the impacts on surrounding neighbours could be substantial, and there will be nothing they can do about it, if this law passes.

Backers’ argument

The argument advanced by the backers of the bill is that it will protect farmers from people who move from the city to rural areas and then complain about the noise, smells and other activities associated with farming.

There is no evidence provided by them that this is anything more than a scare campaign intended to look like it’s doing something for farmers, without actually addressing the things that are making life harder for those on the land.

We know this includes; the influence of the big two supermarkets and huge agribusinesses; the impacts of climate change and drought; and the lack of support to adapt and diversify existing systems.

Instead we have the ‘Right to Farm’ bill which looks likely to hurt those it is claiming to help.


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5 COMMENTS

  1. We are all sitting ducks. The ‘right to farm’ bill means
    the government can allow land fracking, shutting up
    anyone who has an opinion on ‘any usage’ of any
    property, intensive feedlots, water use since CSG
    in definitely ‘water hungry’ & so on. Let’s call it for
    what it is – ‘People Control’. Siberia, anyone… it’s
    got nothing-to-do with city people moving to the
    country.

  2. That’s exactly the thing the USA Government and Monsanto did – Learn by their mistakes. The USA have ruined agriculture and food production to be one of the most poisonous in terms of toxicity both of the actual food and any recompense affected people are prevented from claiming justice.

    Agribusiness is already poisoning us with GMO, herbicides, fungicides, miticides, poisoning the water, rivers and water tables, the soil, killing off beneficial bacteria, insects and destroying the ecosystem.

    Plastic toxicity has nothing on agribusiness poisoning of our world, but NOBODY IS PAYING ATTENTION!!!!

  3. Yes Orwellian 1984 is here tragically. We are living in an authoritarian state ( nation) Thanks to all the ignorant bogans who keep voting for the conservative extremists. Today I heard Dutton FINALLY saying something (indirectly) honest about the Chinese Govt. It was well overdue re his tempered criticism. He went on to preach about how ‘we’ value Free Speech & live in a democracy etc I shouted at the Tele as the hypocrisy was galling. He is the same dangerous Dude ( along with several other LNP pollies) that has shoved his foot down the throat of those disempowered or marginalised.Dutton has initiated and /or supported/ & endorsed Farmers protection Bills/ mouthed off about taking away Centrelink payments from Extinction Rebellion protesters/ supported AG Gag Bill etc & generally has thwarted any criticism or opposition from those disagreeing with Govt policies. So much for his comments ‘we value free speech’ that only applies IF you are on his side obviously. We are living in a police state where peaceful protests now incur 5 yr Jail sentences & $22 K fines…SHAMEFUL …

  4. As long as “farmers” keep electing the corrupt sellouts from the Nationals to parliament these sorts of laws, and worse, will keep coming. Welcome to Australia’s authoritarian corporatocracy, farmers!

    And you thought it was only those “activist greenies” that the current NSW and Federal COALition dictatorships were going to oppress. Wake up.

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