‘Barely hanging in there’: Ben Fordham calls on Premier to save distraught farmers
Ben Fordham has appealed directly to the Premier of NSW to help farmers who are facing fines of up to $1 million for clearing their own land.
The Ben Fordham Show has been contacted by several farmers who are facing bankruptcy for the crime of simply clearing their land.
Farmers must acquire a permit to cut down bush on their land, but for every hectare of land cleared farmers are forbidden from touching four hectares of their own land.
The Native Vegetation Act was repealed in 2017 to introduce fairer legislation, but farmers are still being prosecuted under the old law.
They face fines of up to $13,000 a day if they refuse to answer questions from the Office of Environment and Heritage.
Ben Fordham says it’s a cruel punishment for farmers who are already struggling to make ends meet.
“We’re talking about farmers who haven’t had an income for five years or longer because of the drought. Now, they have their backsides dragged into court. Fines and fines galore.
“What do you reckon it’s doing to these farmers who are barely hanging in there because of the worst drought in living memory?”
Some of the farmers affected by the laws met with Environment Minister Matt Kean on Friday.
Ben says one of them was so distraught at the prospect of losing his livelihood that he couldn’t control his emotions.
“While they talked, the farmer in question burst into tears. He started crying in front of Matt Kean and he had trouble stopping that crying.
“These are tough people. Really, really tough people.
“They’re sitting there in the minister’s office on Friday, and they’re sitting there in tears.”
Ben also appeals directly to Premier Gladys Berejiklian to put an end to the draconian laws.
Click PLAY below to hear Ben’s comments in full