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New Offences of Inciting Trespass or Unlawfully Destroying Property on Agricultural Land

Early last year, animal rights activists uploaded a map with details of farms around Australia. This allegedly led to a number of individuals trespassing onto agricultural land, and in...

Zoe Whetham

Early last year, animal rights activists uploaded a map with details of farms around Australia. This allegedly led to a number of individuals trespassing onto agricultural land, and in some instances destroying property, in an attempt to frustrate or expose business operations. In response, Australian Parliament took active steps to protect farmers from illegal activity by activists.

Amendments to the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) introduced two new offences:

  1. Using a carriage service to make available, publish, or otherwise distribute material with the intent to incite another person to trespass on agricultural land (section 474.46).

    The maximum penalty for this offence is 12 months imprisonment
  2. Using a carriage service to transmit, make available, publish or otherwise distribute material with the intent to incite another person to unlawfully damage or destroy property, or commit theft on agricultural land (section 474.47).

    The maximum penalty of this offence is 5 years imprisonment

For both of these offences, the distribution of information must occur through a carriage service, such as the internet. These are not offences for which information must be sent to or received by large groups of people. Rather, the material may only have been sent to one other person through a private message to enliven either of these offences.

Both of these offences also require the accused to have an intention to incite another person. The first offence additionally requires the Prosecution to prove that the inciter was reckless as to whether trespassing or conduct engaged in while trespassing could detrimentally affect the primary production business.

Changes to the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) also extend these offences to tree plantations or areas marked for authorised tree lopping.

If you are charged with any of these offences it is important to seek legal advice. To contact one of our criminal law experts, call (02) 9025 9888.