Rights of landowners and lease holders with regard to trespass
In seeing the recent vegan activist events that unfolded across farms in Southern Queensland, it struck me that there is a degree of uncertainty around what a farmer can do should someone trespass on their property.
The reality is, landowners in Queensland have a right to peaceful enjoyment of their property, whether they are lessees or owners. This right includes the ability to exclude others and to carry on approved activities (for example, cattle grazing) on their property. Similarly, protestors have a right to freedom of speech, including the right to protest in a legal manner.
Trespassing onto landowners’ property to protest, whether peacefully or otherwise, is illegal and landowners are well within their rights to require protestors to remove themselves from the property and/or call the local police as soon as trespass occurs to remove the protestors.
In addition to being illegal, trespass on primary producing land can be extremely dangerous, as graziers may be using heavy machinery or mustering cattle on horses/motorbike and/or with helicopter assistance.
It has been heartening to hear comments from the Queensland Police Service to the extent that they are wanting to work with landowners to ensure that their rights are upheld and quiet enjoyment is not adversely affected.
It would be more productive for both sides where protestors raised their concerns through the existing industry bodies – like the Cattle Council – that represent farmers without trespassing at all, instead of interfering with property owners who are trying to support their family and communities for the greater good.