Western Australian police are investigating an arson attack on a truck and trailer at a cattle feedlot overnight by anti live export activists.
It is the third time the feedlot at Mundijong, 40 kilometres south of Perth, has been attacked in the last 18 months.
The vandals also sprayed ‘stop live exports’ across a shed on the property.
The feedlot is owned by Rural Exports and Trading, but the truck and trailer belong to a private manure carting contractor
General manager Mike Gordon has condemned the actions of what he calls ‘radicals’.
Mr Gordon says there’s a role for animal welfare activists, but says he feels the argument often gets out of balance.
“Animal welfare activists claim the moral high ground when often they don’t have that right.
“I certainly don’t put everyone in the same category. These radical elements are fringe but they do exist.
“But some of the activity that goes on in protest against the trade is illegal, dangerous and criminal.”
Mr Gordon says the attacks on his and other companies, like Wellard Rural Exports, have been subject to are obviously acts of sabotage.
“We’ve previously had a tractor quite severely damaged, and at the same time, ironically, parts were taken from our firefighting unit and thrown into the bush.
“But I don’t think there is any animal welfare group that would condone this sort of activity.
“At least, not publically.”
Wellard Rural Exports also targetted by criminal activists
At Easter time earlier this year, Wellard Rural Exports was also targetted by vandals who broke into its nearby feedlot at Baldivis.
The activists cut hydraulic and brake lines on trucks, forklifts, tractors and trailers and cut 50 electrical cords.
General manager Fred Troncone says if the staff hadn’t noticed the damage immediately, the results could have been serious.
“I’ll be the first to say that animal rights activists have a right to express their opinion. They’ve got the right to demonstrate against the trade.
“That’s what Australia is about. We’re a free country with freedom of speech and people are allowed to protest.
“But I think we need to be careful that we draw the line when that activity turns criminal.
“They do not have a right to be criminals.
“The same people who were protesting against live exports on welfare grounds also turned off the water to the sheep troughs.”
Senator weighs in on attack
West Australian Senator Chris Back is currently pursuing an amendment to the criminal code, which would cover vandalism of this kind.
The private Senator’s bill would allow police to investigate and prosecute animal abuse more effectively and prosecute known offenders.
It would also allow police to prosecute a person or persons that threatens, intimidates, causes fear to any person associated with a legal operating enterprise, or if they vandalise, invade or trespass into properties such as farms and feedlots.
He says this most recent vandalism in Mundijong adds weight to his argument that changes need to be made.
“Nobody wants to stop the rightful, lawful activity of people who want to object to a trade,” he said.
“That happens openly, we will see it happen at the G20 and that is the right of people.
“But it is not the right of people to interfere in the lawful operations of others, to put businesses at risk and to put lives at risk.”