Cranbourne abattoir (Wagstaff) is located SW of Melbourn, extensively damaged by fire in 2013, multi species plant employing 250 people.

Other Names

  • Ralph’s Family abattoir2
  • Wagstaff abattoir2

Current Operation

  • fire extensively damaged the facility March 2013 – Not sure of current operation.


  • Cranbourne is a south western suburb of Melbourne, approximately 35km from the CBD.

Australia. Cranbourne


Hema Maps – Australia Truckies atlas.


  • Ralph founding family members.2


  • Two tier export licensed plant2
  • Has capacity to process 300 cattle and 2500-3000 sheep a day2
  • Employed 250 people2
  • provided service kill and boning program for local producers and suppliers.2
  • Multi species processing abattoir2



  • Established to service the growing population of Melbourne.2


  • Chronic labour shortage in meat industry and meat processors are accussed of using 457 temporary visa programs to bring in skilled labour but underpaying and using the people for other work positions.1
    • Visas granted to industries nationwide (not only meat processors) jumped 40% from previous year.1
    • Freeze was placed on 457 Visa applications to meatworks by Government over concerns of breachs of conditions. – Delays are said to be hampering meatwork operations1
      • lack of employees have some processors throwing product away rather than be processed due to lack of labour and is causing missed opportunities in export markets1
    • 457 Visa means worker must stay with employer for 4 years, Meant to meet criteria of skilled slaughtermen and only used for that position, not as unskilled labourers, boners.1
    • Recruitment companies find the workers and match to employer, usually the employer finds accommodation and deducts rent and travel from workers salaries – AMIEU claim exorbitant rents are being charged1
    • Union complaining that 457 Visas workers. “Workers who are being brough into Australia are in many cased being exploited.are being abused , and not being paid correctly and being misued at work” Graham Bird AMIEU1
    • Cranbourne employ 20 Chinese workers – they are bussed to the abattoir from homes rented by the company, all 457 visas. – Cranbourne say its operations all above board1
    • Murray Bridge abattoir (SA) subject of Government investigation of if 457 Visa holders are doing other jobs.1
    • Western Australia had 36 Investigations, 80% of employers found to be in breach of conditions and WA department of employment protection recovered $200,000 in underpayment of wages (Authors note – article didn’t specify if across all industries or only meat processing)1


  • Operations changed and Ralph’s Meat company spilt – one extension taking over Cranbourne facility (Operates as Wagstaff)  and the original company operating a another abattoir at Seymour (Operates Ralph Meat Co)2


  • March. Fire caused extensive damage to approximately 60% of the building2
    • Thought to have begun as an electrical fire in the roof.2
    • Insulation used in refrigertion make abattoir fires notoriously hard to control2
    • Sheep and cattle  were penned in close proximity to the building on fire, they were able to be moved but 2 sheep died from stress.2


  1. ‘Meat Industry accused of exploiting foreign workers’ ABC 7.30 report 31.07.2006
  2. ‘Fire guts Victoria’s Cranbourne meatworks’ Beef Central 25.03.13

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