Seven people have been arrested after animal rights activists blockaded a Victorian abattoir to protest the use of carbon dioxide to stun pigs before slaughter.
Three men and four women have been charged with trespass offences after the protesters chained themselves to machinery in the Benalla Abattoir early on Thursday morning.
No one was injured during the incident, and the seven people have been bailed to appear at the Benalla Magistrates Court at a later date.
While the use of carbon dioxide gas to stun pigs before slaughter is legal and common practice in Australia and Europe, the Farm Transparency Project said pigs were dying in agony every day.
"Today we are here to peacefully put our bodies in the way of these instruments of death and destruction and demand an immediate ban on the use of carbon dioxide gas chambers, at the very least until a full inquiry can take place," animal rights campaigner Chris Delforce said in a statement.
The group is calling on the Victorian government to launch an inquiry into the practice and pushing for a total ban.
Benalla Abattoir declined to comment on the incident.
The protest comes two weeks after graphic footage of pig processing was released to the media.
Addressing reporters in Melbourne on Thursday, Premier Daniel Andrews said he was not aware of any breaches of standards at Victorian meat processing facilities.
"As the son of a beef farmer, I know that you get much better outcomes ... when animal welfare is front of mind, and you slaughter humanely and you treat your livestock properly," Mr Andrews said.
"There'll be many people who would regard slaughtering those animals or any animals as an inhumane thing, that's not my view.
"They're entitled to their view, but that's not my view."
Early last year the Andrews government passed livestock management laws increasing on-the-spot fines for trespassing on primary producer property to $1272 for individuals and $8178 for an organisation.
Further penalties of up to $10,904 for an individual and up to $54,522 for an organisation could apply for more serious offending.
Opposition agriculture spokeswoman Emma Kealy slammed the state government for rejecting Nationals' amendments to the Livestock Management Amendment (Animal Activism) Bill to make penalties even higher.
"Labor's weak activist laws hurt not just businesses and employees, it also wastes the time of frontline emergency service workers," Ms Kealy said in a statement.
Nationals member for Euroa, Annabelle Cleeland, said the local business had been targeted multiple times by activists.
Australian Associated Press
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