Federal Government Wants Answers From State For Abattoir Outbreak

May 7, 2020 Updated: May 7, 2020

The federal government has called for greater transparency from the Victorian government about the CCP virus outbreak at Cedar Meats Australia as 62 people with ties to the abattoir have now tested positive for COVID-19.

Speaking on 3AW radio on May 7, Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said he was troubled by the outbreak because it involved meat processing factories that are essential to Australia’s food security and supply chains.

Littleproud said he was concerned by the protocols around the incident and had launched an investigation.

Victoria Health notified his department about the outbreak on April 30, a few days after his department had already found out through “gossip.”

“So it’s important that there is transparency and swift action in notifying, particularly those that come into contact, so that we don’t spread this virus,” he said.

The Victorian Labor government and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) did not name Cedar Meats Australia when first disclosing the outbreak, despite previously naming a school during another outbreak. This decision has since been criticised by Liberal opposition leader Michael O’Brien.

O’Brien wrote on Twitter on May 5: “Is this the same meatworks that Daniel Andrews tried to keep secret – despite naming schools, hospitals and aged care homes? Is this the same meatworks that donated $15,000 to Labor just before Daniel Andrews became Premier? You know the answer…”

In a media release (pdf) by Cedar Meats on May 5 the company said that it had first been made aware of an infected worker on April 27, and about the outbreak on April 29. However, the Victorian DHHS confirmed a worker at Cedar Meats tested positive on April 2.

A second and third case was also discovered on April 24 and April 25 when a worker got tested for unrelated reasons.

Speaking to 3AW on May 6, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the DHHS ruled out the possibility the worker could have infected others because they had not been at the facility for weeks beforehand.