Ex­porter to face fresh probe

Narrogin Observer - - News - Nick But­terly

The na­tion’s biggest ex­porter of sheep faces a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter the Fed­eral De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture re­vealed it had opened a fresh probe into Perth-based ex­porter Emanuel Ex­ports over a dis­as­trous se­ries of voy­ages to the Mid­dle East.

The West Aus­tralian has con­firmed the de­part­ment has is­sued the com­pany with a “show-cause” no­tice — ask­ing Emanuel to jus­tify why it should be al­lowed to hold an ex­port li­cence.

The Fed­eral Govern­ment was re­cently forced to pull a Bill de­signed to im­pose more con­di­tions on the live sheep trade amid fears La­bor might have the num­bers to ban the trade.

In a state­ment, the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture said it was con­duct­ing a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into vi­sion re­leased by ac­tivist group An­i­mals Aus­tralia that showed sheep dy­ing in hor­rific cir­cum­stances in a se­ries of voy­ages from Fre­man­tle aboard the Awassi Ex­press.

“This in­cludes in­ves­ti­gat­ing al­le­ga­tions of over­stock­ing of the ves­sel, fail­ing to have suf­fi­cient food and water avail­able, in­jury and ill­ness not be­ing treated , and ac­cred­ited vet­eri­nar­i­ans and stock­men leav­ing the ves­sel prior to com­ple­tion of un­load­ing,” a de­part­ment spokesman said.

The de­part­ment said a “range of ad­min­is­tra­tive pro­cesses” were un­der way as to whether other ac­tion could be taken.

Lawyers act­ing on be­half of Emanuel are un­der­stood to have made lengthy sub­mis­sions to the de­part­ment in re­gards to the show-cause no­tice on why the com­pany should be al­lowed to con­tinue to ex­port.

Emanuel man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Graham Daws had no com­ment when con­tacted last week.

Fed­eral Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter David Lit­tleproud promised that ex­porters found do­ing the wrong thing would be held to ac­count.

“I ex­pect and hope the in­de­pen­dent reg­u­la­tor is us­ing the full ex­tent of its pow­ers,” he said.

The Govern­ment with­drew its Bill that would have given reg­u­la­tors more power against rogue op­er­a­tors af­ter La­bor sig­nalled it could amend the leg­is­la­tion to ban live ex­ports.

It was feared Lib­eral MP Sus­san Ley might cross the floor to vote with La­bor.

Mr Lit­tleproud said he was dis­ap­pointed the Bill was pulled, say­ing La­bor was play­ing pol­i­tics.

The West Aus­tralian re­vealed this year Emanuel had been in­volved in two voy­ages to the Mid­dle East two years in a row in which thou­sands of an­i­mals died of heat stress.

Those re­ports prompted the State Govern­ment to launch an an­i­mal cru­elty in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

In April, 60 Min­utes aired footage of sheep dy­ing in ter­ri­ble con­di­tions aboard the the Awassi Ex­press — kick­start­ing a de­bate about live ex­ports.

Pic­ture: Justin Benson-Cooper

Live­stock trans­port ship Awassi Ex­press at the cen­tre of live ex­port con­tro­versy at Fre­man­tle Port.

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