Joyce’s warning: ‘The farmers won’t cop it’
BARNABY Joyce warned yesterday of "ugly consequences" after more than 70 activists swarmed into a cattle feedlot on the Darling Downs sparking a biosecurity scare.
The former deputy PM said the invasion of Animal Liberationists at Lemontree feedlot 8km west of Millmerran on Saturday was another example of the rising militancy against Australian farmers.
The farmers wouldn't cop it, he said.
The property, owned and operated by the McNamee family, held 30,000 head of cattle worth more than $50 million.
Beef industry leaders said police did not arrive until more than an hour after the alarm was raised and left without making a single arrest.
They said the protesters also breached federal guidelines by avoiding the usual biosecurity disease checks by climbing fences and gates.
"It was the timber industry, then fishing, live cattle and sheep, now it's the feedlot industry, pigs and poultry … we are supposed to be reasonable with these totally unreasonable people,'' Mr Joyce said.
"The Greens and the Left would lose their bundle if we went into their houses, their businesses, their lives in the same way they go into ours. If this issue comes to a head, it will have ugly consequences as those protecting their rights become as virulent as those breaking into their property."
Dave McNamee told friends the small crews on duty at the noon invasion had no power to repel the animal rights activists.
"We must come down on these trespassers and vandals like a tonne of bricks - they are not the only ones entitled to strong views."
The family was angry when activists posted pictures of dead steers on social media.
A family friend whose company fattens cattle at the feedlot said the McNamees had an exemplary animal welfare record.
"There are a large number of cattle there," he said.
"Sometimes some die, or have to be put down for all sorts of reasons. It's like a hospital with 30,000 patients. Some would die," he said.
Agriculture Minister Mark Furner slammed the actions of the protesters, calling them "nuffers", who should face the full force of the law.
"So-called activists will not change minds by resorting to burglary, theft, vandalism and intimidation," he said.
"If they cause harm to animals or farm output by recklessly breaching Biosecurity protocols, farmers could be entitled to make civil claims against them for compensation.
"These nuffers are just making fools of themselves and potentially risking their own lives and those of others."
A Queensland Police spokesman confirmed that there were no arrests, "however a lot of intelligence was gathered, which is standard practice, police are making further inquiries and investigations continue".