Militant vegans are being invited to farewell lambs in rituals outside slaughterhouses, as abattoir owners turn to unique tactics to appease activists who threaten to raid their properties.
After being alerted when a truck is set to deliver stock from a farm, some animal rights activists are given two minutes with the lambs to “say goodbye”.
The decision might seem strange, but one abattoir owner told The New Daily it was a necessary compromise after his property was targeted by more than 50 vegan activists who raided the business several times.
It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday flagged he would crack down on protesters who trespass on private farms, promising to push for harsher penalties to be passed in Parliament within two weeks.
Melbourne abattoir owner Mark*, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of being targeted further, said he was pushed to breaking point after dealing with vegans “sabotaging cameras and installing their own, storming the meat processing area, getting on the (abattoir’s) roof and flying drones”.
Mark’s abattoir has been criticised for animal cruelty after a video emerged showing workers mishandling animals.
The confronting footage showed workers drop-kicking sheep’s heads like footballs.
He said he was shocked by the behaviour of workers and had made changes to ensure it would never happen again.
And rather than lashing out at the animal rights activists, Mark wanted to understand them.
“I approached the vegans, spoke with them and asked them what they were trying to achieve,” Mark told The New Daily.
“I invited a small party of six right through the (meat) works and I believe I’ve got a working relationship with one section of them.”
Now, one of the groups who launched attacks on Mark’s abattoir hold a regular “ritual” at his property instead.
“They wanted to say goodbye to any animals that came through on trucks, so I’ve turned it around from them attacking us to now having them meet out the front, spend two minutes with the truck and then move on,” Mark said.
“Anyone can come and look at my establishment and see how I treat the animals – it might seem contradictory to vegans, but they (the animals) mean a lot to me.”
But while Mark’s plan has appeased some campaigners, others around Australia have made it clear they were not willing to strike a deal with anyone in the meat industry.
James Warden, ringleader of Direct Action Everywhere Perth, said that if authorities tried to impose new laws to stop them raiding properties, his group would simply become more creative with their tactics.
“We’ll adjust. The landscape is always changing and I’ll push myself past my comfort zones,” Mr Warden told The New Daily.
He said the meat industry was lacking transparency and he wanted it to “crumble”.
“Part of the problem with the animal agriculture industry is that it’s hidden in darkness,” Mr Warden said.
“The public needs to recognise these animals they’re consuming are dying horrific deaths through horrific practices.”
Mr Warden fronted Mandurah Magistrates’ Court in May accused of two counts of stealing, two counts of aggravated burglary and three counts of trespassing after allegedly breaking into several WA farms last year.
Police allege he took a $1500 friesian calf and a piglet.
The proposed laws come after the publication of an online map on animal rights website Aussie Farms with the location of hundreds of livestock farms, meat works and dairies. The map remains active.
If the rules pass, it would be a Commonwealth offence to use a ‘carriage service’ such as phone or internet to encourage others to trespass, damage, destroy or steal property on farms.
In response to questions on Thursday about how authorities would enforce the laws including to shut down websites, a spokeswoman for the Attorney-General’s Department said: “The investigation of allegations of any criminal offence is a matter for police. Police agencies at the commonwealth, state and territory levels can investigate offences against the Commonwealth Criminal Code.”