ANIMALS Australia has called for closed circuit television camera monitoring in abattoirs nationally after troubled Echuca processor Riverside Meats agreed to install CCTV and have it independently monitored.
Executive director Glenys Oogjes also today called for the closure of Riverside Meats, following a media blitz about videos showing poor treatment of sheep, calves and pigs at the Echuca plant. Click here to get Sheep Central story links sent to your email inbox.
Ms Oogjes said the government’s response to footage aired on the ABC last night is inadequate, and is calling for the Victorian regulator, PrimeSafe, to close down the Echuca abattoir immediately.
However, a PrimeSafe statement said the legislation that PrimeSafe administers provided that a prohibition can only be implemented for the purposes of public health.
PrimeSafe and Agriculture Victoria are investigating video evidence of alleged animal cruelty at Riverside Meats obtained from Animals Australia.
“PrimeSafe is aware of the inability of the owners or managers of Riverside to supervise their workers – the abattoir must lose its license and cease slaughtering animals immediately,” Ms Oogjes said.
Animals Australia said it has written to the relevant ministers around the country, detailing other violations of animal welfare standards at other plants.
“Anyone who has endured a viewing of even small excerpts of the footage at these slaughterhouses would fully understand that only independently-monitored CCTV will reduce cruelty and discourage workers from engaging in abusive practices.”
Enforcement authorities should be given full access to CCTV footage via online streaming, she said.
No Vic plans for mandating CCTV
The Animals Australia campaign has also included a call to Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford for the introduction of CCTV cameras in all abattoirs and for footage to be independently monitored, with full online streaming access available to enforcement authorities.
In a statement late yesterday Riverside Meats said it did not agree with animal activists illegally entering properties to film operations, but would support any initiative by the Victorian Government to implement 24-hour surveillance and independent monitoring for all meat processing facilities. However, there are currently no indications the Victorian Government is looking at mandating CCTV in abattoirs.
“Many groups have advocated for this and some Victorian abattoirs already have CCTV,” Ms Pulford said yesterday.
“I will consider this as part of the reform of animal welfare legislation that has been foreshadowed in the draft action plan for improving animal welfare in Victoria.”
No industry cultural animal welfare issues – AMIC
Riverside Meats principal Chris Peat also said the installation of 24-hour CCTV surveillance “might help to change the culture which is holding back Victoria’s otherwise highly successful meat industry”.
“While the actions shown in this video are inexcusable, we recognise that the culture of the industry is one in which it is difficult to change attitudes and practices that workers have been allowed to believe are acceptable, over many decades,” Mr Peat said.
However, the Australian Meat Industry Council said the comments by the processor that there is a ‘cultural issue’ across the meat industry regarding animal welfare were incorrect and ignored the extensive work undertaken to develop and implement animal welfare standards and training programs for industry participants.
AMIC said more than sixty meat processing operators are accredited under an independently audited Animal Welfare Accreditation Scheme, and detailed education and training programs are available to all sector participants.