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Using a Carriage Service to Incite Property Damage or Theft on Agricultural Land

Using a carriage service to incite property damage or theft on agricultural land is an offence under section 474.47 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison.

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. You transmitted, made available, published or otherwise distributed material
  2. You did so using a carriage service
  3. You intended by doing so to incite another person to unlawfully damage or destroy property or to commit theft, and
  4. The incited damage, destruction or theft was on agricultural land.

A ‘carriage service’ is ‘a service for carrying communications by means of guided and/or unguided electromagnetic energy’, which includes telephone calls, text messages and internet transmissions such as emails and social media messaging.

‘Theft’ is defined as dishonestly appropriating another’s property with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of that property.

The determination of ‘dishonesty’ is a matter for the trier of fact, which is the magistrate in a local court hearing or the jury in a district court jury trial.

A ‘primary production business’ is a business of grazing, operating animal feedlots, dairy farming, poultry farming, forestry, bee‑keeping, viticulture, aquaculture, growing fruit, vegetables, nuts or crops, farming animals for the purpose of producing meat or meat by‑products, processing fish, wood or wood fibre, or operating an abattoir, livestock sale yard or registered establishment (within the meaning of the Export Control Act 2020).

For the purposes of the definition, it is immaterial that part of the land was used for a residential purpose or for a business that was not a primary production business.

You are not guilty of the offence if the material related to a news or current affairs report that was:

  1. In the public interest, and
  2. Made by a person working in a professional capacity as a journalist.

You are also not guilty if you are not subject to civil or criminal liability due to the operation of a law of the Commonwealth, or a state or territory, or if you were an employee of an emergency service or national relay service provider and your conduct was in good faith in the course of your duties, or if your conduct was protected by the constitutional doctrine of implied freedom of political communication.

Duress is a defence to the charge.

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