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‘Draconian laws… destroying our livelihoods’: Farmers prosecuted under repealed laws

Farmers are facing bankruptcy after continuing to be prosecuted under old land clearing laws that have been revoked.

The Native Vegetation Act was repealed in 2017 to introduce fairer legislation, but farmers are still being prosecuted under the old law, facing fines of up to $500,000.

Farmers must acquire a permit to cut down bush on their own land, but for every hectare of land cleared farmers are forbidden from touching four hectares of their own land.

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 has spoken with Environment Minister Matt Kean off-air, who said no farmers are being prosecuted under the old tougher laws.

But Webb & Boland solicitor Brendan Moylan, a country lawyer representing some of these farmers, tells Ben otherwise.

“In the last 18 months alone… we’ve opened over 100 land clearing files, all for alleged offences under the old legislation.

“When you’re sitting in your clients shed putting the rifle away… trying to help him go inside away from the firearms cabinet, there’s something inherently wrong with the way that we’re approaching this issue.”

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A farmer from the north-west of NSW, who wished to remain anonymous, tells Ben what is happening is “statutory theft”.

“It’s absolutely devastating what’s happening up here.

“These laws are the most draconian laws known to our community. They’re basically taking our land, destroying our livelihoods.

“There’s fear of retribution. If you put your head up they come after you.”

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Ben Fordham’s fight to save Aussie farmers from bankruptcy

Ben Fordham campaign