New laws have passed in South Australia to significantly increase the penalties for people found trespassing on farming land, including vineyards and wineries.

“This new ‘aggravated farm trespass’ offence acknowledges that individuals trespassing on primary production land and interfering with the conduct of the business, not only put the safety of people at risk, but also increase the risk of possible biosecurity and food contamination,” said Attorney-General Vickie Chapman.

Those found guilty could face a $10,000 fine or 12 months in prison, as well as paying compensation to the farmer.

Other legislative changes include:

  • Increasing the penalties for interfering with farm gates from $750 to $1,500 and introducing on-the-spot fines of $375 for this offence;
  • Increasing penalties for disturbing farm animals to $2,500 or six months imprisonment; and
  • Doubling fines for other trespassing offences if they take place on primary production land.

After a rise in animal activism trespass, Member for Finniss David Basham advocated strongly for the changes which he says will help deter illegal activism and help prevent damage to rural properties.

David said the wine industry was more complicated than some other agricultural sectors, given that visitors were welcomed onto properties with cellar doors, but not welcomed into other parts of the business.

“In this case, it’s important for property owners to make it clear what areas of the property are not to be entered, including putting up signs telling people not to walk into the vineyard,” he said.

David said the new laws gave farmers more power to cover additional management costs that occurred as a result of trespassing. “If someone comes onto a property illegally and brings in weed seeds, and then the farmer spends the next 10 years trying to get rid of the weed, the farmer can be compensated,” he said.

This law change is part of the SA Government’s Justice Agenda, which can be found here.