The peak industry body for Australia’s red meat industry has expressed its disgust with an activist who vandalised a butcher shop in Brisbane today, and has called on the government to recognise that anti-meat activism is affecting businesses across the supply chain and must be stamped out.

The Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) represents retailers, processors and smallgoods manufacturers and is the only industry association representing the post-farmgate Australian meat industry. This morning, staff at AMIC member Clancyjames’s butcher shop in upscale Taringa, arrived to fake blood, smashed glass made to look like bullet holes and a spray-painted messaging declaring ‘meat is murder’.

AMIC CEO Patrick Hutchinson says enough is enough.

“We are simply disgusted by this,” he says. “Once again we see activists targeting legally operating businesses. Just a couple of months ago activists closed down a busy intersection in Melbourne and broke into a number of premises, only to walk away with a slap on the wrist. It sends absolutely the wrong message.

“We’re heartened to know that our new Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie is on board with much tougher penalties for agri-activists but it is critical that this is not limited only to on-farm activism. As we’ve seen today in Brisbane, there are other businesses feeling the brunt of this disgraceful behaviour.”

Clancyjames owner David Bobberman, who runs two retail outlets and an online store, says the vandalism at his Taringa store happened at about 10.30 last night and was reported to police by a customer who saw the perpetrator in the act. Police have made an arrest.

“I hope there will be charges laid,” David says. “When you come to work and there are two holes that look like bullet holes, you don’t take that idly. This is a free country – by all means, say what you want, but go about it the right way.”

David says the community response today has been exceptional, with social media going ‘berserk’ and people who are not even customers popping into the store to express their support.

AMIC’s Patrick Hutchinson says it’s time for penalties against activists to reflect community values.

“Of course people are entitled to their own views, but illegally entering facilities is just not okay. It creates biosecurity risks, it leads to breaches of privacy, it is potentially unsafe for the activists themselves and at the end of the day it puts at risk jobs in regional communities,” he says.

“We need immediate action to deliver for tougher fines and jail terms to curb this unlawful activity. These activists are criminals and they need to be treated like it. We call on both the Agriculture Minister and the Minister for Small Business, Michaelia Cash, to commit to swift and decisive action to push through changes to legislation that will make it easier to prosecute illegal activism.”

Australia’s meat sector provides 55,000 full-time jobs. It is worth $22 billion annually and meat is the seventh-largest export commodity in the country.