Protests are 'a tinder box waiting for a spark'

Animal rights protests draw criticism from AMIC and Green Shirts Movement

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Animal activists arrive at Carey Brothers Abattoirs, Yangan, as part of their national day of action.

Animal activists arrive at Carey Brothers Abattoirs, Yangan, as part of their national day of action.

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AMIC calls for rapid response after activists illegally entered several member operations.

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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.

"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 said.

"Our 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."

Last week the federal government announced a crackdown on activism, including bringing the Aussie Farms organisation under the purview of the Privacy Act, which comes with potential penalties of up to $420,000 for breaches.

Mr Hutchinson says Australia's meat sector provides 55,000 full time jobs. It is worth $22 billion annually and meat is the seventh-largest export commodity in the country.

In many regional areas, the local meat processing facility is the biggest employer in town.

"Of course people are entitled to their own views, but illegally entering facilities is just not okay," he said. 

"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.

"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."

Green Shirts Movement national coordinator Martin Bella said radical green groups are an increasing menace to public safety.

He said their social media activities should be monitored by law enforcement agencies in the same manner as extreme right or radical religious groups.

"The escalating harassment by activists is a tinder box waiting for a spark," Mr Bella said.

"These activists have announced they are increasing their activity and each protest becomes more offensive and outlandish.

"Despite repeated intimidation, threats and agitation from the extreme green activists our landholders have behaved impeccably - but how long before someone cracks?"

Mr Bella said the Green Shirts Movement had issued repeated warnings to the office of Queensland's Agriculture Minister Mark Furner and Police Minister Mark Ryan about animal extremist social media activity over the past week. 

He said the state government's newly announced on-the spot fines did not go far enough.

"An on the spot fine is a slap on the wrist - we give the same to people for jaywalking," Mr Bella said. 

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