Farmers and abattoirs across the eastern states of Australia have been subjected to a series of coordinated protests today as animal activists looked to make waves and mark the year anniversary of the Dominion film.
From Goulburn in NSW, to Flinders Street in Melbourne, and across abattoirs in Victoria and Queensland, activists ran a series of coordinated protests to mark the one-year anniversary of the animal rights documentary, Dominion.
Carey Brothers abattoir near Warwick, Queensland, was targeted along with Southern Meats in Goulburn, NSW, while Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, and Laverton North, Victoria, are also believed to have also been targeted by protesters.
This follows news last week that the controversial animal activist Aussie Farms organisation faces fines up to $420,000 following the announcement the federal government will bring the farm map website under the Privacy Act.
Animal rights protests draw criticism from AMIC and Green Shirts Movement
Meat industry stakeholders are calling for a strong and rapid response to animal rights activists, in response to Monday's Dominion anniversary action.
Protests took place at several processing facilities, including Carey Brothers at Yangan, with Australian Meat Industry Council CEO Patrick Hutchinson saying activists had put themselves, hundreds of workers and thousands of animals at risk.
At least four AMIC member businesses were targeted in the invasions.
Carey Brothers abattoir targeted by 120 animal rights protesters
Carey Brothers abattoir at Yangan is the latest processing facility to be targeted by animal rights activists. Read more here.
Queensland Police confirmed they were called to the abattoir at 3.30am and 100 activists were protesting outside the facility.
A further 20 activists entered the building and chained themselves to the kill floor.
Queensland Police have said following the incidents this morning, they expect no more planned action today.
Police arrest nine people after chaining themselves to a Goulburn abattoir
Police Inspector John Sheehan told the Goulburn Post that all nine people who carried out the protest this morning at Southern Meats abattoir had been charged with trespassing and hindering police.
He said they had all received bail and would attend Goulburn Local Court at later dates.
Recapping - there were nine offenders: three men, one aged 46 and two aged 22, and six women, aged between 21 and 61.
He said three of the women were facing additional charges of resisting arrest.
Victorian abattoirs targeted by animal activists
Animal activists have attempted to disrupt works at a number of abattoirs across Victoria.
The actions at at least five abattoirs comes at the same time as activists blocked the busy Flinders Street and Swanston Street intersection in the city.
Abattoirs at Pakenham (two), Bacchus Marsh, Geelong and Brooklyn were targeted with people and vehicles blocking access. Read more here.
Agriculture Minister, police, to discuss vegan activists
Victoria's Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes has described vegan protests, in Melbourne and across Victoria, as outrageous.
Activists shut down Melbourne's central business district, this morning, and also protested outside regional abattoirs.
"It's illegal, it's destructive, and I think they are undermining their own cause," Ms Symes said.
Prime minister admonishes animal activists
Scott Morrison has admonished as "un-Australian" the animal activists behind a controversial map of farmers' addresses and contact details.
The prime minister has also scolded the "shameful" actions of vegan protesters who have invaded farms and abattoirs.
Activists to face on-the-spot fines in Queensland
The Queensland state government has committed to cracking down on 'animal rights zealots' invading farms in illegal protests, but the opposition has labelled their plan as weak.
Agriculture Minister Mark Furner and Police Minister Mark Ryan on Sunday announced new regulations would give police and agriculture department officers the power to issue on-the-spot fines.
Mr Furner said the fines would be a faster penalty than pursing trespass charges, however he did not say how much the fines would be.
Gippy Goat Cafe closes down following activist attacks
Gippsland's Gippy Goat Cafe has announced it is shutting its doors, following four months of animal activist attacks.
The cafe's owner John Gommans had previously stated that he was appalled by the $1 fine issued to a vegan activist last month after they broke in and removed livestock from the Yarragon property.
Victorian Farmers Federation reaction
The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has come out in support of its farmers, noting today's animal activist activities have achieved little more than traffic and business disruption, unlike previous events across the country.
VFF president David Jochinke said it was fortunate that while causing disruption to the public and businesses today's actions appear to have been peaceful.
"(Which is) unlike the other events we have seen unfold across the country recently where large numbers of trespasses invaded farming businesses," Mr Jochinke said.
"For those who choose to eat products from animals, they can be assured that Australian farmers care for their animals and strive to achieve world's best practice when it comes to many standards of production including animal health and welfare.
"If you choose not to consume these products, I am also proud to say that Australian agriculture provides you with many other healthy and safe protein sources.
"Our farmers deliver great produce - ethical and sustainable food for their communities and consumers. Healthy animals mean a healthy and productive farm.
"The protesters must show respect for the choices of others - people who enjoy chocolate for a treat, consume milk after exercise to assist with muscle recovery, through to those who start their day with scrambled eggs on toast and celebrate family events with a roast dinner or barbeque.
"Farmers respect their animals and invest heavily in research and development to ensure they are always adopting the latest science-based methods and to guarantee their end product meets a range of specifications to suit a wide variety of consumers from all around the world.
"While farmers and city-based consumers may at times live very different lives, we actually have many things in common. We value family and safety, we care for our animals be they pets or farm animals, and we pride ourselves in growing and consuming great food.
"We extend our thanks today to Victoria Police for their work in ensuring the safety of Victoria's farmers and our community."
Australian Meat Industry Council reaction
The Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) chief executive officer Patrick Hutchinson has called for a strong and rapid response after activists illegally entered several member operations this morning, putting themselves, hundreds of workers and thousands of animals at risk.
At least three AMIC member businesses were targeted in the invasions, led by vegan activists. The break ins were also linked to a major protest which shut down roads in Melbourne and interrupted the morning peak hour.
"What we've seen here is a group of ideologically driven people flouting the law, at the expense of businesses and employees doing the right thing, completely lawfully," Mr Hutchinson says.
The three member organisations involved are all small to medium sized regional facilities.
"What this amounts to is workers in regional and rural Australia being impacted by people who are not part of their communities. They come in, they cause trouble, they create images that are not representative of the work our members do, they damage a business's ability to operate, and then they're gone.
"Of course people are entitled to their own views, but illegally entering facilities is just not okay. It creates biosecurity risks, it leads to breaches of privacy, it is potentially unsafe for the activists themselves and at the end of the day it puts at risk jobs in regional communities," he says.
"There is a genuine potential for the sector to be negatively impacted through inability to conduct business or through direct damage to premises, which could potentially lead to job losses in communities that cannot afford to lose jobs."
Mr Hutchinson says AMIC's members are held to the very highest standards of animal welfare, in all aspects of operation.
"The impact of encouraging activist encroachment onto these sites hurts hundreds and in some cases thousands of employees and their families who are working to ensure a safe and consistent food supply for Australia and the rest of the world."