AUSTRALIA’S live export regulator has cancelled a second exporter’s licence, prompting a call for an explanation to sheep producers from the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia.
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources today cancelled the export licence of EMS Rural Exports, just two weeks after it cancelled the licence of its parent company Emanuel Exports.
The cancellation’s follow the release earlier this year of disturbing live export shipment footage featuring dead and dying sheep sourced by Emanuel Exports on Middle East-bound vessels. The footage has sparked government reviews, legislation and changes in shipping standards for Middle East sheep shipments during the northern summer period. Emanuel is Australia’s largest exporter of live sheep.
The latest cancellation comes as Livestock Shipping Services is considering a sheep shipment this month and after Rural Export and Trading (WA) Pty Ltd, the Australian subsidiary of major importer Kuwait Livestock Transport and Trading, has applied for an export licence.
However, the department’s failure to offer a specific explanation to WA producer groups for the two licence cancellations has angered PGA president Tony Seabrook.
“It is unreasonable that a large reputable company like Emanuel that occupies 75 percent of the space in (live sheep) exports out of Western Australia to lose both its licences and get absolutely no explanation as to what they’ve done.
“They have been a large and reputable company that has exported a huge number of stock from Western Australia over a very long period of time and knocking them out of the market place in the way that they’ve done it is going to cost the people I represent a very large amount of money.”
Mr Seabrook believes the WA sheep industry is due a “please explain” from the department.
“Not from Emanuels, but from the government, because it is all very well for them to say ‘we’re going to take down the rogues and get rid of the ratbags’, well that’s fine.
“But there are a lot of farmers who are very dependent upon Emanuels as a company for their business and it’s like going to a dairy company like Murray Goulburn and saying ‘we’re going to shut you down’,” he said.
“There are implications to what they’re doing and it is going to hurt a lot of people.”
Emanuel Exports confirmed today that the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has issued a notice to Emanuel to cancel the export licence of EMS Rural Exports Pty Ltd. EMS is a related entity to Emanuel, and the EMS export licence had been suspended until receipt of this notice today, Emanuel director Nicholas Daws said.
“Emanuel will appeal this decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
“Given this notice will now be subject to review, we would like to limit our comments to this today,” he said.
Department has power to cancel licence by association
The department said under the Australian Meat and Livestock Industry Act 1997, the Secretary of the department has the power to cancel an export licence in cases where a licence holder is an associate of a person or entity which has had their livestock export licence suspended or cancelled.
The department said EMS Rural Exports Pty Ltd export licence was cancelled because it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Emanuel Exports Pty Ltd and is an associate of Emanuel for the purposes of the Act, DAWR said.
“As there is potential court action and ongoing investigations, including a criminal investigation, it would be inappropriate for the Department to provide any further detail,” a departmental spokesperson said.
Emanuel Exports Pty Ltd had its export licence cancelled by the department on 21 August 2018.
“Cancellation of a licence is a serious step that is only taken in the best interests of the industry and for the protection of Australia’s high standards on animal welfare.
“As the department noted when the Emanuel licence was cancelled, it is the responsibility of each exporter to ensure it meets the clear requirements under the legislation that governs the export of livestock,” the department said.
“This includes providing complete and accurate information to the regulator as to how regulatory standards and licence conditions will be met and have been met.
“The department will not provide further comment on either licence cancellation at this stage.”
The department said it actively considering applications from other potential exporters to the Middle East against the strict requirements of the legislation.
In addition, the department said it is considering some further changes to conditions that will apply to the export of sheep to the Middle East once the northern hemisphere summer has ended. DAWR said these changes will carefully consider recommendations made by Dr Michael McCarthy in his review of the conditions for the export of sheep to the Middle East during the northern summer.