Carey 'gobsmacked' by reaction to abattoir protest
A DAY that had the potential to bring a respected business to its knees instead inspired an outpouring of support and mateship from the community its owner and staff love.
Yangan Abattoir owner Greg Carey said protesters who chained themselves to his machinery in the early hours of last Monday may be claiming victory but on his home turf, he and his team were the victors.
"All they try to do is sensationalise this and get it all over the news and they have done that and achieved what they wanted, but in this area it has had the opposite effect,” he said.
"I am very proud of how everyone has supported us and the two butcher shops in town. I think they would have noticed a huge increase in sales this past week because of what the activists have done.”
Mr Carey said he was blown away to see people from all across the Southern Downs and further afield rally for his business.
"We are a big part of the community and to see people support us has been amazing - I have been gobsmacked by the reaction.”
"We have had people come in from Brisbane and Beaudesert just to give their support and buy meat.”
Mr Carey said apart from the widely reported incident where protesters entered his kill floor and chained themselves to equipment, he believed someone had purposely poured ammonia throughout the Yangan site in a separate attack.
"Ammonia was poured in the pens and the livestock didn't like that at all - they were bellowing and the pigs were squealing.
"Subsequently the fire brigade were called to get rid of the ammonia and some of the staff weren't feeling well because they were overcome with the fumes. Their lips were burning, eyes sore and had to be treated at hospital.”
Despite the tumultuous past week, Mr Carey, who was out of town when the protesters arrived in Yangan, said his staff were handling the entire situation extremely well.
"They are doing great and have come through with flying colours. It's definitely still a talking point out here but they did a marvellous job handling everything.”
A week after the protest, 11 activists have now been arrested and charged with 18 offences including unlawful entry, trespass and drug offences.
No complaint has been made over the ammonia incident
Mr Carey said initial agreements to not press charges had changed after the protesters went back on their word and remained on the kill floors.
"They didn't leave straight away so they broke that deal,” he said.
The offer to hand over the sheep also came from Carey Bros, which Mr Carey said was a way to end the protest quickly.
"There was a lot of pressure on the manager. We had trucks coming, there was a big day ahead and 30 staff were waiting outside,” Mr Carey said.
"All he wanted to do was to get rid of the protesters as soon as possible.”
Following the protests, Mr Carey has had to liaise with meat authorities and the stock squad, as well as carry out biosecurity audits to validate their work on the site.
Although it was disruptive, Mr Carey is not holding grudges and said he was focused on his customers and staff.