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Qld horse abattoir may face criminal probe

Biosecurity officers have inspected a Queensland abattoir at the centre of a racehorse cruelty scandal but no charges have been laid so far.

Officers examined the Meramist Abattoir at Caboolture on Friday after the ABC 7.30 program aired distressing footage of some staff beating, shocking, and screaming abuse at former racehorses before they were slaughtered.

Queensland Agriculture Minister Mark Furner says no charges have been laid as far as he’s aware, but he will receive a full briefing on Monday.

“I’m not going to go into too much detail on the investigation because it could very well turn out to be a criminal investigation for alleged breaches of the Animal Care and Protection Act.”

Mr Furner revealed the abattoir, which exports horse meat, has been investigated in the past over complaints about the transport of horses to the site but no formal breaches were identified.

He said he was aware of reports about a neighbour complaining to the local council about the frantic sound of terrified horses being brought to the plant late at night.

“If those complaints were made to the Moreton Bay Regional Council why didn’t they pass them on to the likes of Biosecurity Queensland?”

The minister has written to federal Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie seeking answers, including whether an appointed vet was present when the killings occurred, as required under federal regulations.

“What we really want to find out is what’s happening inside the abattoir when these beautiful horses are slaughtered,” he said.

He said he’d also put the issue on the agenda when Senator McKenzie meets with state and territory agriculture ministers in Melbourne on Friday.

AAP is seeking comment from the abattoir, and the council.

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