Sheep ship is loaded after Animals Australia court action fails

Sheep Central, June 16, 2020

Sheep being loaded onto the Al Kuwait in Fremantle today

SHEEP were loaded onto the live export vessel MV Al Kuwait in Fremantle today after an attempt to halt the shipment by Animals Australia failed in the Federal Court.

Rural Export and Trading (WA) Pty Ltd (RETWA) today said an estimated 35,000 sheep will be loaded onto the vessel after its departure was delayed by the last-minute appeal against an exemption to the current moratorium on Middle East shipments from 1 June until mid-September.

RETWA said the purpose-built live export vessel will be loaded with livestock “in the coming day” to depart in accordance with the requirements of the exemption from trade regulator the Department of Agriculture.

RETWA said heat stress risk mitigation was the focus of its exemption application, including the removal of heavier sheep that can be less heat tolerant and ensuring wool length is less than 20mm. Specific areas of the vessel will not be loaded with sheep, the stocking density has been significantly reduced and there will be regular expert input on weather routing, animal physiology and livestock management.

Dismay at granting of exemption – Animals Australia

However, Animals Australia director of strategy Lyn White said the organisation accepted the Federal Court’s decision, but is disappointed.

“Our position remains that had the department had all available expert evidence before it, this exemption would not have been granted.

“The reason this legislation was introduced was to ensure commercial interests were no longer put before animal welfare,” she said.

“This is the public expectation, which is why there was such dismay on the granting of this exemption.

“There are no exceptional circumstances that justify knowingly putting 50,000 sheep at risk of heat stroke,” Ms White said.

Ms White said the June 1st halt in live sheep shipments to the Middle East was implemented based on extensive scientific reviews that concluded that measures cannot be taken to sufficiently mitigate the risk of heat stress during June.

“The summer halt is in line with the industry’s own northern summer moratorium.

“They cannot have it both ways – animal welfare either matters or it doesn’t,” she said.

“One would expect exporters should be strongly backing these laws – not actively seeking to circumvent them.”

RETWA general manager Mike Gordon said the consignment is significant for Australia’s long-term trade partners in Kuwait.”

“It has never been more important to value and service our trade partner relationships than during this time of global food insecurity.

“The Al Kuwait’s modern design and ventilation has delivered excellent results on previous voyages,’ he said.

“This vessel was always planned for the end of May voyage and we have no doubt will deliver excellent results on this voyage departing only two weeks later.”

ALEC welcomes Federal Court decision

The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council welcomed the Federal Court’s decision to allows the exemption for sheep to be exported on the MV Al Kuwait to stand.

ALEC chief executive officer Mark Harvey-Sutton said Animals Australia’s appeal to the Federal Court was based on nefarious grounds and deliberately aimed at delaying loading of the sheep to cause maximum inconvenience to the exporter.

“This was not about animal welfare; it was about trying to stop the live sheep trade to the Middle East.

“We welcome the Court’s common-sense decision in finding that Animal Australia did not have grounds for procedural fairness in the department making its exemption decision.”

“Had Animals Australia been successful in its appeal the ramifications would have been significant and potentially impacted all agricultural exports.

“Questions now need to be asked why Animals Australia felt so convinced that they have a right to provide unsolicited and uninformed submissions to processes that do not invite third party submission and relate directly between the applicant and the regulator,” Mr Harvey-Sutton said.

“Never has the maintenance of international trade been more important and as a country we should be doing our utmost to facilitate this, showing respect for these longstanding relationships and to service food security needs globally.”


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  1. Katrina Love, June 17, 2020

    “This was not about animal welfare; it was about trying to stop the live sheep trade to the Middle East.” Does Mark Harvey-Sutton not undrestand that stopping the live sheep trade to the Middle East is the best outcome for sheep welfare?

    It is astounding that the industry can suddenly focus on heat stress risk mitigation, remove heavier sheep that can be less heat tolerant, ensure wool length is less than 20mm, not load onto specific areas of the vessel (one assumes they mean closer to the engine rooms where it’s hotter), significantly reduce stocking density and get regular expert input on weather routing, animal physiology and livestock management.

    If this minimises the risk, why has it not always been done this way If they can ship sheep with the lowest possible heat stress impact, there should be no time at which they are not following this protocol.

  2. Jack Cleary, June 17, 2020

    Animal liberationists, we are aware, include hyperactives, intractables and sensible people. The discomfort and death…it will occur in the latest export of the livestock. I see no problem that ‘liberationists’ try to prevent the shipping in such inclement weather. I also have an issue with other ‘farmers federation’ extremists getting no media criticism, whilst knowing for more than a decade of the cruelty by receivers of our livestock. They and the government and inspectors kept quiet.

    When the minister did the correct thing in halting live exports, he did not complete the task, which would have kept the slaughter going. I wrote of that at the time. Now, the taxpayer, not the government, has been sued for $600M for loss and damages by people who could not have been unaware of the cruelty which led to the embargo, nor did they take any action to stop the problem themselves. There is no indication they intend to change anything, to go along with that. In my view it has been a very smarmy action and they ought be treated with disdain by the taxpayers they have saddled with this punitive debt.

    • Katrina Love, June 19, 2020

      Really… if anyone is being sued, it should be MLA, who documented in their own report, everything that Lyn White’s camera crew and subsequently, the Four Corners camera crew, documented – tail breaking, roped pole slaughter, rope casting, tripping, head-banging by steers on the concrete ramps of the slaughter boxes as they tried to right themselves, “waterboarding”, plus multiple throat cuts. MLA knew of the atrocities occurring against Australian cattle and failed to act, which left White no other option but to expose it.

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