Current Operation

  • Closed. Built 1970’s


  • Inside Kakadu National park. 250km E of Darwin

Map. Mudginberri. jpg


  • Jay Pendarvis8


  • Workers mainly itinerant and worked in dry season only. Not contracted direct to Jay Pendarvis but 3 contractors engaged by owner
  • Intended to process large number of feral buffalo, particularly when BTEC in operation.



  • Government offered contracts to catch Buffalo out of the South Alligator area (Kakadu National park) (Pg 163)8
    • All animals caught around Souh Alligator, East Alligator, Swamps of Canon Hill and Magilla creek went to Mudginberri. (Pg 164)8
    • Mangilla swamp – 1000 buffalo caught – 10 kilometres from abattoir. (Pg 164)8
    • All buffalo caught were carted to Mudginberri meatworks – Jay Pandarvis manager at the time (Pg 163)8


  • 1983-85 AMIEU dispute symbolised the fundamental crisis facing Australia in 1985 as there was sharply declining prosperity because of poor productivity and trade-union intransigence4Pg 49
  • AMIEU served log of claims to set up tally system at Mudginberri (M) as it was operating under its own agreements with workers.


Note on Tally system.

Tally system was work place arrangement prior to 1995 – Plant operated on single shift, quota of kill, when quota for day reached kill stopped6.

Normal operation was start 6am end 2pm

Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (EBA’s) introduced – Previously tally system has set rates of pay and also rate of productivity. Any new investment in efficiency meant workers just reached minimum tally in a shorter time. Tally system removed, increased production levels3.

EBA allowed multiple shifts, reduced penalties and shift loads, longer working days and increased pay rates. 30-40% increase in effective capacity. Lead to 40% reduction in unit costs3.


  • AMIEU set up picket line


  • Union workers from Katherine ab and others picketed Mudginberri  (M)9th May,   4 months. Actual workers at M didn’t participate. ACTU endorsed AMIEU
  • Government inspectors refused to cross line, fired, production at M stopped, work resumed 24 June. Only NT gov inspectors authorised and meat only allowed for domestic consumption at ½ price of export.
  • AMIEU refused to lift picket and fined, assets frozen – All Australian meatworkers went on strike 20000. Then included maritime and transport workers strikes in support
  • Mudginberri was member of NTCA who are members of NFF.
  • NFF sponsored Perdarvis legal actions. NT gov guaranteed $2M loan to ab on condition would sue AMIEU
  • Full arbitration commission allowed the contract system but also stated decision was only applicable in the NT
  • 27 court cases, 2 years litigation. Jay Pendarvis awarded $1 759 444 damages
  • Robert Bright who owns Batchalor abattoir (NT) buys Mudginberri (pg 248)8
    • ran on terms of kill one day, bone the next (Pg 249)8
    • Only needed one crew,8
    • workers applied for jobs and half selected8
    • working crew went on strike in sympathy for others not selected.8
    • Bright gave choice to had been originally cut out if they wanted to replace the first picks, they did and stayed until closure (Pg 249)8
  • Foreman at Mudginberri at the time – Tom Turnbull (pg 249)8


  • The Mudginberri case (1986) set a major precedent for law – Secondary or indirect boycotts – Anti competitive conduct – ss 45D-45E

The Mudginberri Case (1986) AMIEU v’s Mudginberri station Pty Ltd (1986) 161 CLR 98.

Finding by court – A union carried out a secondary boycott by stopping another union from providing services to a ‘target’ corporation.

AMIEU blockaded Mudginberri station after it refused to pay workers the AMIEU pay rates. Meat inspectors who belonged to another union refused to cross the picket line which meant the Mudginberri meat couldn’t be approved for export.

Federal court held – That AMIEU was engaged in an illegal secondary boycott. Court granted injunction to stop the blockade

The union ultimately paid nearly $2M in damages and fines of $2000 per day for each day the picket remained after the injunction was granted.5


  • Mudginberri closed down, it was the  last of the Alligator River abattoirs to be closed

image. 03.06.13.Source –

Mudginberri abattoir – Abandoned

M. Outside.Source –

Mudginberri -InsideSource –

Inside the disused Mudginberri abattoir. The animal entered the kill box on the left, when slaughtered hang chain progressed to rear of shed.

Special Mention – The site has some of the most beautiful scenic and wildlife shots of the Northern Territory I have ever seen. it is well worth a view.


  1. Mudginberri revisted: a case study of a secondary boycott. Green Left. 16.01.13
  2. Mudginberri dispute. Wikipedia 16.01.13
  3. Savannah Responses to Feral Buffalo in Kakadu National park
  4. ‘Australian Livestock Export Trade’ Nigel Austin 2011
  5. ‘Australian Business Law’ 7th Edition. Vickery/Flood 2012.
  6. Competition and Exit in Meat Processing:A QLD Case Study. Agribusiness review 1999
  7. References with their articles (Rolfe 1988),(Reynolds and Sangster 1998b)
  8. ‘The privileged few’ Jeff Hill 2008

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