AN urgent Federal Court of Australia injunction will be sought to stop a Middle East-bound live sheep shipment from Western Australia if the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources grants approval, Animals Australia said this afternoon.
The peak animal rights body said it will seek the injunction if DAWR grants an export permit for the shipping of 45,000 sheep from Fremantle port on the Al Shuwaikh.
Animals Australia said it is watching the port to see if the animals will be loaded by EMS Rural Exports, the affiliate of suspended exporter, Emanuel Exports.
If the sheep are loaded and a permit is granted, an injunction will be sought on the grounds that a decision to grant an export permit for this shipment would be unlawful, the body said.
Animals Australia chief investigator Lyn White said seeking an injunction is a huge step for the organisation.
“But we simply cannot stand by when laws that should prevent these animals from being placed at such dire risk are not being upheld.”
Emanuel Exports licence has been suspended pending an investigation into alleged breaches of export regulations and the company is believed to be seeking to export the sheep using an export licence held by EMS Rural Exports. The exporter was this afternoon waiting for DAWR approval for the shipment.
The injunction proposal came as the RSPCA called upon the Turnbull Government to exercise its power under the Export Control Act 1982 to stop the shipment from departing and prevent these animals from experiencing this truly horrendous ordeal.
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud this week said all decisions on live export licencing, issuing of export permits and related matters are made by the independent regulator alone.
“I have no power to interfere in the operations of the independent regulator.
“I have official advice from the regulator confirming I have no power in these matters,” he said.
However, the RSPCA said today the minister has the power to act, and there are extensive precedents for similar actions.
The RSPCA said the minister has wide-ranging legislative power to intervene by Ministerial Order under the Export Control Act 1982:
“The Minister may, by instrument in writing, make orders, not inconsistent with regulations made under the Act, with respect to any matters for or in relation to which provision may be made by regulations made under the Act.”
This power has been used by Agriculture Ministers from both sides of politics on many occasions in the past, the RSPCA said.
Emanuel Exports licence has been suspended pending a criminal investigation into breaches of export regulations – yet the company is seeking to export these animals through one of its associated companies, which currently has a live export licence.
Animals Australia said its lawyers have provided the DAWR with an extensive brief of evidence as to why the granting of the export permit would be unlawful under the Export Control (Animals) Order 2004 (Cth). Animals Australia has since formally foreshadowed the intention to seek a Federal Court injunction if a permit is granted.
“There will be public outrage if Emanuel Exports, albeit under a different name, is allowed to proceed with this shipment.
“The strategic removal of Graham Daws as a director doesn’t change the powers of the department to suspend the licence of EMS under the associate’s provisions,” Ms White said.