Legislation changes for Victorian farmers as new financial year arrives

By Rodney Woods

With the new financial year fast approaching, Victorian farmers will need to be aware of some new policy changes coming into effect from July 1 and those ending on June 30.

As previously reported, sheep producers will be required to administer a registered pain-relieving product if mulesing sheep as part of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (POCTA) Regulations 2019.

The new requirement will ensure better animal welfare outcomes for Victorian sheep and will enhance the reputation of Victoria's sheep industry.

The state's new workplace manslaughter laws will also come into effect.

Under the new laws, employers who negligently cause a workplace death will face fines of up to $16.5 million and individuals will face up to 20 years in jail.

This falls under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and will apply to employers, self-employed people and officers of a company or organisation.

The new laws will also apply when an employer's negligent conduct causes the death of a non-employee.

VFF president David Jochinke said while the VFF maintained its original view that the legislation should be applied equally to everyone in the workplace, it would help give farmers the knowledge to comply with the new laws and achieve the best possible safety outcomes.

“We're disappointed that the government chose to ignore our calls for the law to provide adequate protections for family business,” he said.

“Despite our recommendations falling on deaf ears, the VFF will continue to work with Victorian farmers to minimise risk and educate workers on the best possible safety standards in the agricultural sector.”

While some legislation forges on, the extension to the quad bike rebate will end on June 30.

The rebate was part of a dedicated campaign to reduce injuries and deaths on farms by fitting rollover protection to current bikes, or buying a more suitable option like a side-by-side vehicle.

In other news, there’ll be no price increases for the renewal of vehicle licences or registrations in the new financial year.