By Jeremy Sollars
“It’s a conspiracy to disrupt agriculture in Australia.”
That’s how Greg Carey described the invasion of his Yangan abattoir by animal rights activists in the early hours of yesterday, Monday 8 April, as part of a national day of “vegan action” during which other abattoirs in regional Australia were targeted, along with peak hour commute times in capital cities.
More than 100 activists travelled in a convoy of vehicles to descend on the Yangan plant, with 20 of them gaining access inside and chaining themselves to equipment, forcing staff on site to call the police and enter into negotiations around 3.30am, just as operations were commencing for the day.
Greg himself was on holidays in north Queensland at the time and was full of praise for his staff whom he said handled the situation extremely well in his absence.
With police in Queensland hamstrung by a lack of enforcement options due to inaction over vegan activism by the Palaszczuk Government abattoir staff agreed to hand over three of Carey Brothers’ own lambs to the protesters to simply get them to leave the premises just after 5.30am, so work could get under as normal.
“Monday is always a huge day for us and at the time it was really just a matter of getting those people out of there,” Greg told the Free Times today, Tuesday 9 April.
“These are people who have nothing better to do with their time than try to shut down Australian agriculture,” he said.
“There are thousands of people affected by this – people who go to work every day and families that work hard to feed Australia.
“What I would like to do is thank all the local people who have supported us on social media through this – we’ve been amazed by the support we’ve received and we really do appreciate it.”
Greg Carey says he is seeking legal advice about making a formal complaint to police, an action not taken on Monday due to his being on leave and the need to ensure normal operation of the abattoir once the activists had finally been removed.
He is also in talks with the Australian Meat Industry Council and the Queensland Police Stock Squad about next steps in responding to the incident.
It is understood animal activists previously broke into the Yangan abattoir and acquired footage of slaughtering operations.
Also harassed by the same group of activists early on Monday morning was Freestone dairy farmer Phil Christensen, who confronted them on the boundary of his Freestone Road property around 6.30am, while retrieving a number of young heifer calves which had strayed onto the road.
“The calves went running towards them (the activists) because they’re used to being hand-fed,” Phil said.
“I said ‘You’re not stealing my cattle today’ or words to that effect.
“One of the calves baulked and ran into a fence and I told them to make sure they got footage of that.
“A few of them started swearing at me and got quite abusive – we called the police and that’s when they bolted.
“It was all over pretty quickly.”
Queensland LNP opposition leader Deb Frecklington and local state MP for Southern Downs James Lister have slammed the Palaszczuk Government for stating police could hand out on-the-spot fines to animal activists engaged in ‘farm invasions’ without making the necessary legislative changes.
Ms Frecklington and Mr Lister and federal Maranoa MP and agriculture minister David Littleproud have all called on the state government to introduce hefty penalties as a deterrent to farm invasion, describing such action as a combination of breaking and entering, trespass and breaching of biosecurity.