Secret camera captures disturbing footage at Picton abbatoir

Pigs in their pens before being slaughtered at Picton Meatworx. Picture: Aussie Farms
Pigs in their pens before being slaughtered at Picton Meatworx. Picture: Aussie Farms

Animal rights activists and political parties are calling for the government to take action after 'damning' secret camera footage was captured at a Picton abattoir.

The body-worn camera video captured the use of carbon dioxide gas chambers on pigs, goats and sheep, repeated failure of captive bolt stunning, twisting and breaking of cows' tails to force them to walk into the knockbox (a containment area where the animals are stunned before death) and animals trying to escape after witnessing others being slaughtered.

The footage, filmed at Picton Meatworx, was released by animal rights organisations, Aussie Farms and Animals Within.

The NSW and Federal government are currently attempting to increase penalties for animal rights activists who trespass on agricultural facilities.

However Aussie Farms executive director Chris Delforce said the footage was legally captured as it was not obtained via trespass and did not breach any biosecurity protocols.

The imagery was recorded by a university student who was undertaking placement at the facility as a part of their animal science degree.

"This is some of the most damning Australian footage I've ever seen, and yet, it's completely legal," Mr Delforce said.

"There are very minimal laws in place to protect animals in facilities like these, which is the complete opposite to what most consumers are led to believe.

"While there's a general offence for animal cruelty in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTA) NSW, farms and slaughterhouses are exempt from this if they follow basic codes of practice which effectively legalise cruelty that regular citizens wouldn't be able to get away with."

Mr Delforce said the code of practice relating to slaughterhouses was "only a model code, intended as non-enforceable guidelines".

"Even if a company was found to be engaging in cruelty not permitted under the codes of practice, the maximum penalty under POCTA is $27,500," he said.

"Meanwhile, the NSW government has introduced fines of up to $220,000 for individuals who trespass onto farms or slaughterhouses to expose cruelty, and are now seeking to add jail terms of up to 3 years.

"It's almost beyond comprehension that the act of jumping a fence to merely film animal abuse is somehow considered worse than committing it."

The Biosecurity Amendment (Biosecurity Management Plans) Regulation 2019 act was introduced to Parliament last month to put a stop to activists trespassing on agricultural land.

Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst said the footage demonstrated what the proposed laws against animal activists caught trespassing were "trying to hide".

"This extreme animal cruelty is exactly what the NSW Government's draconian suite of new "ag-gag" laws are trying to cover up," said Ms Hurst.

"Ongoing incidents of animal cruelty like this one are exactly why we have tabled a disallowance motion against the government's most recent attempt at an "ag-gag" law, which was introduced into Parliament under the guise of biosecurity regulations.

"This horrific footage makes it clear that this is an industry that needs transparency. Not more red tape and harsh penalties targeting whistleblowers who are trying to bring this cruelty to light."

Camden Local Area Command's acting Crime Manager Detective Acting Inspector Daniel Clements said police were aware of the footage.

"Our rural crime investigator is making inquires," he said.

"The inquiries are in their infancy but it is still ongoing."

Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said the RSPCA and the food authority have launched urgent investigations into this matter.

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The Advertiser has reached out to Picton Meatworx for comment.