WESTERN Australian company Emanuel Exports will appeal the cancellation of its livestock export licence by the Federal Government.
Emanuel Exports director Nicholas Daws said late last night the industry regulator, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources had issued a notice cancelling the company’s export licence.
“Emanuels will appeal this decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
“Emanuels is a leading exporter of Australian livestock, and we will appeal this notice as a matter of priority,” he said.
“Emanuels remains committed to maintaining the highest animal welfare standards.
“Given this notice will now be subject to review, we would like to limit our comments to this today,” Mr Daws said.
The DAWR investigation into Emanuel Exports was triggered by video footage showing dead and dying sheep in cramped overheated conditions on Middle East shipments organised by Emanuels, including on the Awassi Express, on which about 2400 sheep died during a voyage in August 2017.
Emanuel Exports’ licence was suspended on June 22 and three weeks later the licence of a subsidiary, EMS Rural Exports, was also suspended. Emanuel Exports is one of Australia’s largest livestock exporters, and Australia’s largest exporter of live sheep, exporting more than one million sheep per year to the Middle East.
The company said its operations and management across all states of Australia are overseen by a strict quality assurance program that meets customer specifications as well as meeting all requirements under relevant state and territory legislation and those defined under the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock.
Farmer bodies support licence cancellation
The regulator’s overnight decision gained support from the National Farmers Federation and Sheep Producers Australia, but brought a call for more action from the RSPCA and condemnation from the federal Opposition. The WA Government called on the Federal Government to provide a financial assistance to help Western Australian sheep producers to adjust to the reduction in live exports.
The National Farmers’ Federation, WAFarmers and Sheep Producers Australia said they had confidence in the decision to cancel Emanuel Exports’ licence.
“From the beginning we have called for the regulator to be robust and transparent in enforcing the regulation governing the operation of exporters and the protection of animal welfare and health,” NFF president Fiona Simson said.
“This is what has happened overnight and it is a step forward to rebuilding the trust of farmers and all Australians and to securing the future of the trade.”
WAFarmers president Tony York said livestock exports were a crucial component of WA’s sheep industry.
“Without it, sheep numbers would decline dramatically, hurting farmers, regional communities and the workers and businesses that make up the value chain.
“Fortunately, the trade remains open and we look forward to working with other exporters to enable its resumption,” Mr York said.
Sheep Producers Australia, executive chair Chris Mirams said the body awaited the release of the Moss Review of DAWR’s export regulatory capability and culture, due out later this year.
“We await the release of the Moss Review, with the view of working collaboratively with all stakeholders to ensure a circumstance where the interests of animals, farmers and our regional communities are progressed,” he said.
RSPCA calls for more licence cancellations
The RSPCA welcomed the cancellation of Emanuel Exports licence, but said removing one leading exporter is not enough to protect animals or farmers from the cruelty and volatility of live export.
RSPCA Australia senior policy officer Dr Jed Goodfellow said live sheep exporters have a shameful history of flouting Australia’s animal welfare standards, and decisive action to address this is long overdue.
“We await confirmation of the permanent cancellation or otherwise of the two other licences associated with Emanuel Exports’ partner corporations, EMS Rural exports and International Livestock Exports.
“We remain very concerned there has been no indication of what improvements will apply from October onwards, following the highest-risk Middle Eastern summer period,” he said.
The only way to provide certainty for our farmers’ future and protect the welfare of our animals is to end live sheep export in favour of an expanded trade in chilled and frozen meat from animals that have been humanely slaughtered and processed here in Australia, Dr Goodfellow said.
MacTiernan calls for federal assistance
Western Australia’s McGowan Government said the decision to cancel the Emanuel licence, changes to stocking densities over the northern summer months and the proposed introduction of a new heat stress assessment model for live export ships, will inevitably result in a reduction in the live trade.
WA Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said while the McGowan Government supported any steps to weed out dodgy live export operators and clean up the trade, the actions of the Federal Government over the past six months have led to a halt in live exports and an inevitable reduction in the trade.
“The situation we find ourselves in is a clear result of maladministration from the Federal Government, who have completely ignored obvious issues in the live export trade over the past five years.
“The Federal Agriculture Minister can’t pass the buck on this – his government is to blame for this situation, and he has a responsibility to support WA farmers as they adjust to a new reality where they simply cannot rely on live exports,” she said.
“Only the McGowan Government has been focused on finding long-term solutions to build resilience in the sheep industry; we’re supporting local meat processors to pick up the slack, and investing in R&D to support efficiency in the sheep industry.
“We are now calling on the Federal Government to provide a financial assistance package to the WA sheep industry to support farmers and processors through this adjustment,” Ms MacTiernan said.
I am very alarmed at the Emanuel Exports licence cancellation. Next time the market is over-supplied and our abattoirs cannot handle the numbers of sheep, where will they go? As has happened in the past, farmers will have to shoot their livestock, and some may shoot themselves. It is bad enough having natural disasters, never mind man-made and preventable ones.
Emanuels has earned us, and Australia, billions of dollars in the past, so surely this should be recognised, and they deserve to be helped through their difficulties, not destroyed. The bureaucrats and the Minister for Agriculture are way off the mark.
Sigh of relief…but will your next government follow up?