The company behind the disastrous Awassi Express voyage on which thousands of sheep died says it will appeal the federal agriculture department’s decision to cancel its export licence.
Officials suspended Emanuel Exports’ licence in June after footage was broadcast of thousands of sheep dead, dying and suffering in sweltering conditions on a ship bound for the Middle East.
The decision to cancel the Perth-based company’s licence late on Tuesday last week followed a thorough investigation and show cause process and was ‘‘not one taken lightly’’, the department said.
The action taken was ‘‘in the best interests of the industry and for the protection of Australia’s high standards of animal welfare and health’’ it said.
Emanuel director Nicholas Daws said the company, which began exporting to the Middle East in 1963, would appeal the decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal ‘‘as a matter of priority’’.
‘‘Emanuels remains committed to maintaining the highest animal welfare standards,’’ he said on Wednesday.
Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Tony Seabrook responded angrily to the cancellation, saying the only winners were animal welfare activists, but WAFarmers president Tony York said critics of the trade could take comfort the regulator was doing its job.
‘‘Fortunately, the trade remains open and we look forward to working with other exporters to enable its resumption,’’ Mr York said.
RSPCA Australia senior policy officer Jed Goodfellow welcomed the cancellation and said the community ‘‘should be under no illusion that Emanuel was a rogue operator or an outlier’’.
WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the state government supported any steps ‘‘to weed out dodgy live export operators and clean up the trade’’.
But the Federal Government had handled the sector badly for a long time so sheep farmers should receive a financial assistance package to help them adjust to their sudden ‘‘new reality’’, Ms MacTiernan said.
Her federal counterpart David Littleproud bluntly said that wouldn’t happen.
‘‘Government does not compensate when a market player is removed by relevant authorities,’’ he said.