Live export licence suspended

By Country News

The Perth-based company behind the disastrous Awassi Express sheep shipment to the Middle East has had its live export licence suspended by the Federal Government.

The Federal Agriculture Department ordered Emanuel Exports on June 1 to ‘‘show cause’’ why it should hold an export licence, kicking off a criminal investigation into the August 2017 shipment on which thousands of sheep died from heat stress.

On Friday, the department said the export licence of ‘‘one company’’ had been suspended ‘‘pending a full review of the company’s response to a show cause notice’’.

‘‘The laws that regulate the export of livestock include strict requirements to ensure the health and welfare of animals’’, the department said in a statement.

‘‘It is the responsibility of each exporter to ensure it meets those obligations. The department takes those responsibilities very seriously.’’

The West Australian Government is also investigating the possibility of laying criminal charges against Emanuel under the state’s animal welfare act.

Earlier last week, state officials raided the company’s West Perth offices to secure documents — presumably the same export licence papers WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan accused the Federal Government of refusing to provide.

The raid had the industry up in arms, and the Nationals attacked Ms MacTiernan in parliament, putting forward a motion calling for her resignation.

It was defeated 31-11, with Premier Mark McGowan saying he had full confidence in Ms MacTiernan and most West Australians backed her efforts to make the industry raise animal welfare standards.

She has also traded barbs with Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, with both accusing each other of jeopardising their respective investigations and questioning each other’s commitment to improving animal welfare standards.

Ms MacTiernan wanted Mr Littleproud to ban live sheep exports to the Middle East during their summer months, which are June to August, but he ruled that out.

The toughest change stemming from a Federal Government review of that trade was slashing stocking densities by 28 per cent.

Animals Australia recently went to the Federal Court to challenge the validity of an export licence granted to Emanuel for a load of 58000 sheep that had already left Fremantle on the Al Messilah, which is bound for the Middle East.

The activists claimed granting the licence was unlawful because experts, including the Australian Veterinary Association, had recommended ending the Northern Hemisphere summer sheep trade due to welfare concerns.