AUSTRALIA’S live sheep exports regulator has granted Saudi Arabia export approvals to Emanuel Exports, the Western Australian exporter suspended over the Awassi Express incident that involved about 2400 sheep dying on the vessel from heat stress in 2017.
Live sheep have not been exported to Saudi Arabia from Australia since August 2012 due to the country’s concern that the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System would impinge on its sovereignty.
In 2009, Saudi Arabia was Australia’s third largest Middle Eastern market for live sheep, importing more than 576,000 head valued at A$55 million. Nearly 1.2 million sheep a year were exported to the kingdom at the trade’s peak.
Last week, Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry first assistant secretary – traceability, plant and live animal exports Andrew McDonald told Senate Estimates that on 27 September DAFF approved Emanuel Exports as having the necessary ESCAS arrangements in place to export sheep into Saudi Arabia.
In July 2019, former Emanuel Exports directors Graham Daws and Michael Stanton were charged with 16 counts of animal cruelty under the State Animal Welfare Act 2002 and the matter is listed for trial in the Perth Magistrates Court, on 20 November this year. Emanuel Exports had its licence suspended from late June 2018, to early December 2021, and regained its licence after its successful appeal through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
When asked if he was satisfied that Emanuel Exports is suitable, Mr McDonald said: “We look at the suitability of all companies to be a registered exporter and this company has had a history around our regulatory arrangements that we are now satisfied.”
DAFF agriculture trade group deputy secretary Nicola Hinder said as part of the assessment process, the department needed to have confidence that an exporter is going to meet DAFF’s requirements “in terms of being able to provide exports of live sheep into another market.”
“Have confidence around their ESCAS capability and have confidence, of course, that the export will proceed in a matter that is satisfactory.
“We do take into account past history, but we also do take into account the evidence that we’re provided and the legal basis on which to make that decision,” Ms Hinder said.