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Livestock carriers want trespass laws to protect against activist attacks

Australian livestock carriers were in need of greater support and lawful protection from eco-terrorists attendees at the Australian Livestock Saleyards Association conference have heard.

At the annual event last week Livestock Road Transport Association of Victoria Vice President John Beer said the levels of stress carriers were being put under by activists was fast becoming a mental health issue in which drivers were being continually harassed and delayed.

The issue was putting the safety and welfare of livestock and road users at risk.

Laws, as the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee reviews a submission from the Australian Livestock Road Transport Association (ALRTA) as it pushes for the Federal Criminal Code Amendment Agricultural Protection Bill 2019 to include an additional offence protecting carriers, required an extension.

The offence would apply 'where a person uses a carriage service to transmit, make available, publish or otherwise distribute material with the intent to incite another person to unlawfully impede, interfere, harass, damage, deface a heavy vehicle engaged in moving goods to agricultural land or from agricultural land.'

The proposed legislation will be reported by the Committee to Parliament by 6 September 2019.

ALRTA has also met with advisors to key politicians in the transport and agriculture portfolios.

It follows explosive claims this week from Northern Territory senator Sam McMahon who accused farm invaders of cruelty and extreme violence at a Senate hearing.

"You talk about extreme violence and cruelty on farms," she said.

"What about the extreme violence and cruelty that's caused by your activists going on there, causing morbidity, mortality, criminal damage, biosecurity breaches — and don't say there haven't been any, because there have," said McMahon.

"You talk about extreme violence and cruelty on farms," McMahon, a former veterinarian, continued.

"What about the extreme violence and cruelty that's caused by your activists going on there, causing morbidity, mortality, criminal damage, biosecurity breaches — and don't say there haven't been any, because there have."

Although the ALRTA supported the bill in its current form, ALTRA executive director Mathew Munro said trucks risked becoming targets if the law was passed without amendment.

“A driver is subject to things like fatigue legislation, which only permits them to drive for a certain amount of time,” he said.

“You could imagine if you were running pretty close to schedule and you got blockaded by protesters for 20-30 minutes there is a good chance you might run over time with your own fatigue."

Drivers were being verbally abused and harassed by activists who tried to steal ignition keys, climbed over crates and bullbars.

Meat & Livestock Australia Community Engagement Manager Jax Baptista urged livestock and saleyards workers to be respectful to activists.

"We're taking the aggression out, we're taking their story away," she said.

"Let's take the story away."

Baptista said no matter how uncomfortable it was for workers they should be prepared to suck it up and refrain from causing more angst.

Beer disagreed, contending drivers were at the coalface.

"It is alright to stay calm, but I've got drivers now that are stressed," he said.

"I still do a bit of driving and I've been stood down for about three hours on the side of the road waiting," said Beer.

"How do you stay calm in 70 degree heat in a big truck stopped on the side of the road."

Climate change alarmist group Extinction Rebellion had already disrupted the supply chain and commuter traffic in Brisbane's CBD to public outrage several times this year.

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