Coalition to support establishment of new Rural and Farming Legal Centre

• Coalition to support establishment of a new Rural and Farming Legal Centre
• $2 million in funding to assist farmers and Victorians in rural areas
• Napthine Government improving access to justice in country Victoria

A re-elected Napthine Coalition Government will contribute $2 million over four years to establish a new Rural and Farming Legal Centre, Attorney-General Robert Clark announced today.

The Centre will provide legal information and advice for farmers and those with legal issues specific to rural and farming areas.

“Farmers and those in rural areas can face significant legal challenges that require specialist legal information and advice on areas such as farming and environmental law,” Mr Clark said.

“Existing specialist community legal centres target important issues such as mental health, senior’s rights and tenancy disputes, but there is no specialist community legal centre for rural and farming issues.”

The Centre is intended to be supported by pro bono legal assistance and partnerships with rural and regional law firms.

The Centre will be able to provide legal information, advice or assistance on matters such as:

• trespass, easement or nuisance issues arising from interactions between farmers and neighbours, protestors or companies such as resource and mining companies;
• resolving fencing and other farming disputes;
• representing farming interests in court in appropriate test cases;
• the development of skills for new rural legal practitioners; and
• promoting pro bono opportunities in rural areas.

“The Centre will also promote the importance of specialist rural legal practice and the significant expertise held by Victoria’s country-based legal practitioners,” Mr Clark said.

The Centre will be based in a major regional city and seek pro-bono partnerships with law firms in other rural and regional centres.

Member for Western Victoria David O’Brien welcomed the announcement as a confirmation of the Coalition’s strong commitment to rural and regional Victoria.

“To ensure viable farms and food security, we must stop farms being threatened by unreasonable demands from urban encroachment, unlawful conduct by activists and unfair pressures from competing commercial interests, so I’m rapt this initiative will support rural communities and rural and regional legal firms to assist our farmers,” Mr O’Brien said.