Live ex­port em­ploy­ees in the clear

Countryman - - FRONT PAGE - Zach Relph

The live ex­port reg­u­la­tor has cleared its work­ers of wrong­do­ing amid claims of­fi­cials were leak­ing sen­si­tive in­dus­try in­for­ma­tion to an­i­mal ac­tivists in an ef­fort to com­pro­mise the trade.

Coun­try­man can re­veal the Fed­eral Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Wa­ter Re­sources is­sued an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion to gauge if em­ploy­ees had fil­tered in­for­ma­tion to anti-live ex­port cam­paign­ers.

It is un­der­stood DAWR was put un­der the mi­cro­scope af­ter a meet­ing held in Au­gust, which in­cluded Fed­eral MPs, raised con­cern about depart­ment of­fi­cials shar­ing in­for­ma­tion with an­i­mal rights groups.

In re­sponse to Coun­try­man ques­tions, a DAWR spokesman con­firmed the probe was con­ducted.

He said it found the claims were un­true.

“The depart­ment ini­ti­ated an in­ter­nal in­quiry af­ter be­com­ing aware of the claim,” he said.

“The depart­ment’s in­quiry has con­cluded and there was no ev­i­dence to sup­port the claim.”

The DAWR spokesman was non­com­mit­tal when asked when the in­quiry — which was sep­a­rate from the Moss re­view — started and con­cluded.

The spokesman also re­fused to re­veal who or­dered it.

The in­ter­nal in­quiry rev­e­la­tions come in the wake of DAWR grant­ing Ru­ral Ex­port and Trad­ing WA’s ex­port li­cence ap­pli­ca­tion last Thurs­day to ship live sheep to the Mid­dle East.

It took more than two months for the Aus­tralian-based Kuwait Live­stock Trans­port and Trad­ing sub­sidiary’s li­cence ap­proval to be given the green light af­ter the com­pany ap­plied for the li­cence on Au­gust 17.

Fed­eral Lib­eral Mem­ber for O’Con­nor Rick Wil­son, a sheep pro­ducer from Katan­ning, praised the ap­proval but launched a scathing at­tack on DAWR’s han­dling of the ap­pli­ca­tion.

“They have dragged this process out . . .their per­for­mance has been sub-stan­dard,” he said.

“It is an­other ex­am­ple of how the depart­ment seems to be want­ing to pun­ish the in­dus­try.

“It is ei­ther gross in­com­pe­tence, or they are de­lib­er­ately go­ing out of their way to be spite­ful to the in­dus­try.

“The more voy­ages we can get un­der our belt, with good out­comes un­der the new reg­u­la­tions, the more chance we have in de­fend­ing the in­dus­try in the fu­ture.”

The DAWR spokesman said the depart­ment would not com­ment on in­di­vid­ual ex­port li­cences, but it en­deav­oured to process ap­pli­ca­tions “as soon as pos­si­ble”.

“It is in­flu­enced by how quickly ap­pli­cants re­spond to depart­men­tal re­quests for more in­for­ma­tion,” he said.

The live sheep in­dus­try has re­mained in limbo since April, af­ter whistle­blower footage of dead and heat-stressed sheep aboard Emanuel Ex­port live­stock car­rier Awassi Ex­press was made pub­lic.

Emanuel founder Gra­ham Daws, who formed RETWA with his Kuwait as­so­ciates in 1974, quit the boards of his own com­pa­nies in July.

Emanuel’s ex­port li­cence was can­celled by the Fed­eral Govern­ment in Au­gust.

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