News & Media > Editorials > Scottsdale Pork - A pig slaughterhouse at the intersection of political corruption and bigotry

Scottsdale Pork - A pig slaughterhouse at the intersection of political corruption and bigotry

By Kristy Alger
Sat 13 January 2024, 8:49pm

In October 2007 two elders from a secretive religious sect, the Exclusive Brethren, were granted permanent access to the ministers and backbenchers of the Federal Liberal Party as lobbyists. Their passes were granted with the sponsorship of two people; former minister Danna Vale and the member for the Tasmanian seat of Bass Michael Ferguson.

The Exclusive Brethren are a small but politically influential Evangelical church, that espouses separatist ideologies and whose members have been embroiled in multiple controversies, including three members in Tasmania being handed suspended jail sentences for emotional abuse of children through parental alienation.

In 2006 (prior to the state election) members of the church were involved in an anti-Greens campaign, with pamphlets and half-page newspaper adverts denouncing the party for their policies supporting same-sex marriage, adoption access for gay, lesbian and bisexual couples, and gender self-determination for trans and intersex people. Such policies, the campaign material stated, would destroy society and families. At one point, members drove around Hobart wearing animal masks and towing a trailer spruiking their anti-Greens, anti-LGBTQI+ material.

One of the church members behind the campaign was Roger Unwin, the owner of what was then a small pig farm in Scottsdale.

Shortly after the campaign became public, local trans woman, advocate, and current political candidate Martine Delaney lodged a complaint with the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner (TADC). The TADC ruled that Unwin had a case to answer for, and the complaint was recommended for conciliation. During the tribunal process, it was revealed that then Liberal state director Damien Mantach had met with members of the Exclusive Brethren prior to the state election, and that the party had used staffers to provide the church members with a draft version of the advertising material. During the campaign period, a volunteer for the Tasmanian Liberals was also found to be distributing the Exclusive Brethren material alongside Liberal party material; both bore a remarkable similarity in content and phrasing.

In 2009 Roger Unwin, who had confirmed he was a member of the Exclusive Brethren, issued an apology of sorts. He stated that he acknowledged that “some people may have been offended or hurt” by material stating that LGBTQI+ equality was socially destructive. This apology was published in Tasmania’s three daily newspapers, and it was later revealed these were paid for by an advertising agency on behalf of the Liberal Party.

Fast-forward to 2020. As the state grappled with the spread of covid, as the public health system struggled under the burden of a pandemic it was ill-resourced for, and as the government response further entrenched social disadvantage, the Tasmanian Liberal government announced a grant of $2 million dollars to Scottsdale Pork to construct a new abattoir in the state’s north-east.

This was not the first time the company had been recipients of government funding. In 2009 the state Labor party granted the piggery nearly $181 000 as part of an expansion project.

The new abattoir, it was argued, was essential due to the closure of Devonport City Abattoir at Quioba, when global meat-processing giant JBS pulled out of running the slaughterhouse, despite significant government funding. Tasmanian Quality Meats, which recently faced the potential suspension of their export licence due to the release of footage showing systemic animal cruelty at the Cressy facility, took over the Quioba plant on a limited term basis. Once this ended, pigs would have to be transported from Tasmania to the mainland for slaughter, which would be financially prohibitive for many producers.

The private facility at Scottsdale was built at a projected cost of $3 million, two thirds of which came from the Tasmanian taxpayer. The grant for the project was announced by the then Minister for Primary Industries and Water Guy Barnett and the at-that-time Minister for Growth, Michael Ferguson.

The Environmental Impact Statement describes the design of this facility taking into consideration recommendations made by US livestock industry consultant and animal welfare advocate Temple Grandin. The design features are supposed to minimise stress through the pens and raceways, which can apparently be assessed via the low levels of squealing observed. The report states: “As a pig producer, Scottsdale Pork understands humane handling techniques.”

In September 2023 Farm Transparency Project (FTP) put these claims of “humane handling” to the test, using hidden cameras to film operations.

The footage revealed pigs being kicked, punched, repeatedly hit with a door in the raceway to move them towards the stunning box. Scottsdale Pork uses electronarcosis as the primary stunning method, using “earmuffs” that pass an electric current through the brain. Pigs at the Scottsdale Pork slaughterhouse are seen in the footage to exhibit signs of consciousness after stunning attempts, including blinking, rhythmic breathing, and attempting to stand. Pigs who are not then stunned with a bolt gun are likely entering the scalding tanks conscious.

And their squeals can be heard at volume throughout.

Additionally, footage taken at the Scottsdale piggery itself contradicts the clean, green image promoted on the company website. Pigs are shown living in filthy and crowded pens, living in their own excrement and waste. Illness is apparent amongst some pigs, including tumours. And those pigs who succumb to illness are cannibalised by their pen-mates.

The Scottsdale Pork brand is promoted as being an ethical consumer choice. The company website states that animal welfare comes first: “Welfare is first on our farm, where every effort is made to ensure our pigs are comfortable, happy and content.” When compared against the footage released by FTP from the Scottsdale abattoir and piggery, this statement can only be viewed as humane-washing at best.

Hill Street Grocer, another well-known Tasmanian name, lists Scottsdale Pork on their Producer Profile webpage, touting the label as ethically raising “happy pigs.” Vermey’s Quality Meats, a butchery in Sandy Bay, promotes Scottsdale Pork as ensuring their pigs are “happy, comfortable and contented.” The Stanley Hotel and Apartments list the “paddock-bred” pigs at Scottsdale Pork as part of their “thoughtfully-sourced” menu. Wherever the range of pig flesh products are stocked, the humane line is utilised to convince consumers that they are experiencing the pinnacle of ethical consumption.

Apart from the fact that exploitation can never be humane, as the violent deprivation of animal autonomy and right to their own lives, the practices shown at Scottsdale Pork show an disregard for animal welfare (let alone animal rights) that extends beyond that which is to be expected at such a facility. And there is a significant disconnect between what the consumer expects from a producer of a boutique brand name and what they are actually in receipt of.

How many such consumers will watch to see how their “succulent pork” was kicked, punched, and brutalised before being electrocuted, stuck, and potentially scalded whilst conscious? Will they hold Scottsdale Pork to account? And, at the end of all this, will they finally realise that if this is the very best option available on the market, then that is a scathing indictment of an entire industry built upon exploitation and violence?

If nothing else, the investigation by FTP provides a unique opportunity to remind the community of the intersections that exist between human and non-human oppressions. Roger Unwin as a member of the Exclusive Brethren caused irreparable harm to the LGBTQI+ community. He has been shown favour time and again by the Tasmanian Liberal party to significant financial benefit. The abuse of animals at the Scottsdale Pork abattoir is at the expense of the taxpayer, the consumer, and of the pigs whose rights and welfare are so egregiously ignored.


Scottsdale Pork Pty. Ltd. Environment Impact Statement for Abattoir (Ten Mile Track, Scottsdale, Tasmania) April 2020.

The Tasmanian Times (March 2006) “The Brethren and the Bearpit.”

The Tasmanian Times (March 2006) “Hidding and his Brethren?”

Crikey (March 15 2006) “Bob Brown Slams Shadowy Sect’s Anti-Greens Campaign.”

ABC News (October 7 2006) “Exclusive Brethren Ads Sent to Tribunal.”

ABC News (January 28 2007) “Greens Urge Action Over Alleged Brethren Collusion.”

The Age (October 15 2007) “Two MPs Sponsor Brethren Lobbyists.”

North Eastern Advertiser (March 18 2009) “Labor Grants $180722 to piggery expansion project.” archived at

Sydney Morning Herald (August 2009) “Brethren members apologise over ads.”

Star Observer (August 28 2009) “Libs behind hate advert.”

ABC News (August 21 2009) “Brown Wants Exclusive Brethren Inquiry.”

Tasmanian Liberals Media Release (October 28 2020) “We’re Keeping Tasmanian Pork on Your Fork.”

Hillstreet Grocer Producer Profile: Scottsdale Pork.

Vermey’s Quality Meats: Pork

Stanley Hotels and Apartments

Kristy Alger

Kristy Alger is an animal rights activist from lutruwita/Tasmania. She is currently the key organiser for Animal Liberation Tasmania, and head campaigner for Defund Tasracing. Alger is a published author, releasing Five Essays for Freedom: a political primer for animal advocates in 2020.

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