Meat-Free Week? Let’s celebrate Free-Meat Week, urges pollie

Jon Condon, 21/03/2014


A Federal back-bencher representing a regional Queensland electorate with strong connections to the beef industry has launched “Free-Meat Week” in Canberra, as a counter-campaign against ‘Meat-Free Week’ starting on Monday.

The Nationals’ Federal member for Dawson, George Christensen, whose electorate stretches from Mackay to Townsville, is the driver behind the campaign.

A spokesman for Mr Christensen said the local cattle industry had suffered terribly as a result of the live export market closure brought on by earlier Labor Government actions, together with the impacts of the worst drought in history in Queensland.

“For a campaign like “Meat Free Week” to go out and campaign for vegetarianism, on flimsy environmental and animal welfare grounds, is just un-Australian,” he said.

Having observed the first attempt at “Meat Free Week” last year, Mr Christensen has launched “Free Meat Week” as an awareness counterpoint, in support of the industry and the legitimate role that sustainably-produced red meat has in a balanced diet.

The campaign will be active on social media (see details at bottom of story), and will centre on a barbecue for invited guests to be held near Parliament House at lunchtime on Tuesday.

Mr Christensen is also encouraging others to buy some good Australian red meat, put it on the barbecue and invite their mates around for a free meal, as a statement of protest against the “Meat Free Week” campaign.

There has been a ‘huge positive response’ from the invited guests to Tuesday’s Parliament House free lunch, including sitting members and senators  (150 and 75, respectively), and the parliamentary press gallery (280). It suggests the final barbecue crowd could swell to close to 500.   

Cattle Council and Sheep Meat Council are both providing beef (grassfed MSA five-star striploin from Andrews Meat Industries) and lamb for the event.Andrew’s Meats.

“There will be bread allowed, onions and sauce for those that want it, even though they are derived from ‘vegetable sources,’ but no greens – that’s lower case ‘g’,” Mr Christensen’s spokesman said.

A spike in retail meat sales next week would represent a moral victory for Mr Christensen and industry supporters.  

In January, a coalition of three animal welfare, environmental and human health lobby groups combined to launch the “Meat Free Week” lobby across Australia.

The Australian Conservation Foundation, Voiceless Animal Protection Institute and Bowel Cancer Australia financed a national campaign through print media (see poster published here), asking Australians to “Do something positive this March,” by participating in Meat-Free Week from March 24-30.

The campaign was apparently financed through crowd-funding, with donations sought via the group’s websites. “Eat less meat and be healthier; care more about animals and the environment,” were some of the campaign’s key messages.

The key claims made by the activist groups were heavily discredited in this opinion piece published on Beef Central this week, authored by the Australian Farm Institute’s Mick Keogh.




George Christensen's invitation to parliamentarians, senators and the Canberra press gallery to join him for a 'free meat' lunch near Parliament House next Tuesday.





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