Claims that a proposed bill will prevent Victorians growing their own food are circulating widely among social media users.
The claim is centred around Victoria’s Agriculture Legislation Amendment Bill 2022, which aims to amend 11 different agricultural acts to address measures including biodiversity, chemical use, veterinary practice and food safety. The Bill has bi-partisan support.
This article by The Richardson Post, which has been re-posted by a number of conspiracy blogs and Facebook pages, claims Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is behind the Bill that will stop people from growing food in their own backyard. It goes on to describe the legislation as “an innocuous sounding bill to parliament which is designed to destroy any crops people try to grow in their backyard during a period of food shortages.”
Other posts have said the bill “means you won’t be allowed to grow your own food”.
The claim is false. There is nothing in the Bill to stop Victorians growing their own food and an expert told AAP FactCheck the legislation is instead about providing a way of dealing with potential biodiversity issues.
Many of the social media posts cite several of the proposed amendments in the Bill, namely around government inspections, warrants and penalties, (see here and here) and claim these will lead to a ban on the growing of food.
But Professor Paul Martin, director of the Australian Centre for Agriculture and Law, told AAP FactCheck, there is nothing in the Bill to prohibit individuals growing food.
“What the legislation does do is provide a way of dealing with potential biodiversity issues and invasive species problems that have emerged or could emerge. Some of these are serious, real threats, and laws are being tightened in response, to make existing controls easier to enforce,” he said in an email.
Prof Martin said that like all laws there is the potential for abuse.
“Could I say the conspiracy theorists are totally wrong and these laws can’t be abused? No, because virtually any policing power might be abused. But is it going to happen? Australian courts are generally very protective of the rights of citizens and generally resist government agencies that try to abuse legal powers. Which is why I think there is no practical risk of the laws being used to prohibit domestic vegetable or fruit growing (unless the plants posed a genuine biodiversity risk).
“I believe it would be politically impossible, if nothing else, for the legal powers to be abused in this way.”
Victoria’s Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions told AAP FactCheck the claim was incorrect.
“The amendments will not result in the destruction of crops, nor will they prevent people growing their own food – any suggestion to the contrary is false and misrepresents proposed changes in the bill,” a department official said in an email.
The state government also addressed the claim in a fact sheet on the Bill.
“The Agriculture Amendment Bill 2022 is a complex and varied piece of legislation that seeks to amend 11 separate Acts. There are a number of changes that the VFF supports including improvements to biosecurity enforcement.
“Misinformation about the Bill suggests the authorised officers will be able to undertake searches without a warrant, without landholder consent and without the requirement to present identification. The VFF believes this misrepresents and misinterprets the amendments set out in the Bill.”
AAP FactCheck has previously debunked similar claims about New Zealand’s Food Bill, which was passed in 2014.
The claim that Victoria’s Agriculture Legislation Amendment Bill will stop people growing their own food is false. An expert said the legislation is instead about protecting against potential biodiversity issues and it does not outlaw people growing their own food. He said to use it to do so would be practically and politically impossible.
False – The claim is inaccurate.