WESTERN Australian live sheep exporter Emanuel Exports is maintaining the WA Government has no legal basis to investigate or intervene in live export matters, despite the company’s offices being raided yesterday.
WA farmer body leaders said computers, mobile phones and records were removed in the raid on Emanuel’s Perth offices by state government officials.
WA’s Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan is investigating whether the WA Government can use state animal welfare laws to prosecute the exporter after more than 2400 sheep supplied by Emanuel Exports died on the Awassi Express en route to the Middle East in August last year.
The WA Government was denied information on the shipment and Emanuel’s export licence conditions by the federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources on the grounds it was “commercial in confidence.”
A statement from Emanuel director Nicholas Daws said the WA Court has previously confirmed that the role of setting and enforcing standards for the health and welfare of animals for live export is a matter exclusively for the Federal Government.
“Emanuel will continue to cooperate with any validly issued warrant,” he said.
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WA farmer bodies question MacTiernan investigation
No statement has been issued by Ms MacTiernan’s office about the Emanuel investigation, but Western Australian farmer bodies have questioned Ms MacTiernan’s judgment over the raid.
PGA president Tony Seabrook said computers, mobile phones and records vital to the safe conduct of live export voyages were removed.
“Doesn’t Minister MacTiernan realise she is now actually facilitating poor animal welfare outcomes?
“How are Emanuel meant to have oversight of their voyages when they don’t even have access to their mobile phones for emergency communications with these ships?”
Mr Seabrook said all Western Australians should be concerned by this abuse of power that appears to be orchestrated by a petulant state Minister.
“It is our understanding that the minister has never spoken to or asked Emanuel Exports for copies of these documents.
“Perhaps this procedural ‘bun fight’ could have been avoided if the Minister had simply asked Emanuel for them.”
“Just because Minister MacTiernan can’t get her way with the Commonwealth Minister for Agriculture, is no reason to take it out on Emanuel Exports” said Mr Seabrook.
The WAFarmers Livestock Council president David Slade said despite the Federal Government’s jurisdiction over the live export trade and its recently announced recommendations from the McCarthy review, “Ms MacTiernan appeared determined to pursue her own agenda to cause as much disruption to the trade as seemingly possible.”
“She has pursued this course of action, regardless of the implications to the industry she represents.
“The WAFarmers Livestock Council unequivocally supports the continuation of live export trade and every effort will be made to ensure this can be done without compromising animal welfare,” he said.
“The WAFarmers Livestock Council is becoming increasingly concerned with the actions of the Minister and her persistent attempt to undermine the agreed policies of the Federal Minister, particularly in relation to animal welfare matters.
“It appears the Minister is prepared to compromise the welfare of animals currently on a ship or on properties within the state to pursue an agenda that is being driven by minorities.”
Mr Seabrook said it is clear the minister is not acting in the best interest for the agricultural industry in her determination to shut down the live export trade, and is doing everything in her power to inflame hostility to the live export industry.
Sheep Central has contacted Ms MacTiernan’s office for comment. Australian Livestock Exporters Council chief executive officer Simon Westaway had no comment to make on the WA Government investigation.