ANIMAL rights groups Animals Australia will challenge the granting of a live sheep export licence for a Middle East shipment in Australia’s Federal Court today.
Animals Australia will today appear in the first hearing of an application in the Federal Court of Australia to challenge the legality of a live sheep export permit.
The challenge relates to an Emanuel Exports shipment of 58,000 sheep that departed Fremantle for the Middle East last week on the live export vessel, the Al Messilah.
Animals Australia said the month of June is the official start of the Middle East summer where the risks of sheep suffering and dying on vessels from heat stress during the northern-hemisphere summer are well documented.
“We believe the granting of this export permit by the Department of Agriculture was unlawful and we will be seeking an urgent Federal Court declaration to this effect,” said Legal Counsel for Animals Australia, Shatha Hamade.
Animals Australia said under Australian law, an export permit for livestock may only be granted if certain conditions are met. These conditions include that the Secretary for the Department of Agriculture, or his delegate, be satisfied that the health, welfare and physical needs of the sheep will be met and maintained on an export voyage; and that the travel arrangements for the livestock will be adequate for their health and welfare.
“This export permit was granted despite animal health and welfare experts, including the Australian Veterinary Association, recommending sheep shipments to the Middle East during the summer period should not continue, due to the foreseeable and unavoidable welfare repercussions.”
“Animals Australia’s position is that, in light of the conditions required to be met, it is impossible to understand how any decision-maker acting reasonably could have arrived at the decision to approve this export permit,” Ms Hamade said.
“The extensive science and data from the past two decades of shipping sheep during the extreme heat and humidity of a northern summer speak to the inevitable distress and suffering that these animals will endure.”
A key recommendation from the Federal Government’s McCarthy Review was that Australia’s live sheep export heat stress risk assessment model be changed from one that is ‘mortality based’ to one that is ‘animal welfare based’. This has not been implemented – yet export permits continue to be granted, Animals Australia said.
“The Turnbull government has said that its policy is that the trade will continue during the northern summer. But whether this export permit was lawfully granted will now be a matter for the Federal Court to decide,” Ms Hamade said.
Animals Australia’s legal team is represented by barristers Dan Star QC, Nick Wood and Jim Hartley.
The hearing is at 2:15pm this afternoon at the Owen Dixon Commonwealth Law Courts Building, 305 William Street, Melbourne. Animals Australia’s Legal Counsel, Shatha Hamade, will be available to speak to media outside the Court at 1:50pm.
Click here to see more background information on the Animals Australia legal challenge.