CANBERRA, AAP – A livestock export company linked to the disastrous Awassi Express voyage has had its licence suspended, leaving tens of thousands of sheep in limbo.
The federal Agriculture Department suspended Emanuel Exports’ licence last month after revelations of thousands of animal deaths in sweltering conditions.
Now its ‘sister’ entity, EMS Rural Exports, is believed to have been denied a permit to ship sheep to the Middle East.
In a statement, the department said the company remains responsible for the sheep, which are in a feedlot, and that veterinarians have determined they are in good health and well-cared for.
EMS wanted to take about 45,000 sheep from Fremantle to Kuwait on the Al Shuwaikh, but will now face a full review following the suspension.
A separate smaller sheep shipment to the Middle East was expected to follow.
Animals Australia say they’re relieved by the decision after earlier threatening to stop the export with Federal Court action.
‘The possibility of these sheep being exported by an affiliate of suspended exporter Emanuel Exports, has had both the public and politicians shaking their heads in dismay and disbelief,’ Animals Australia’s Lyn White said.
Footage from the Emanuel Exports-chartered Awassi Express sparked outrage in April, after it showed thousands of sheep dead, dying and suffering in their own filth and extreme heat on their way to the Middle East.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud cited legal advice showing he had no powers to interfere in regulatory decisions other than closing down the entire live export industry.
‘Last time this happened was 2011, when Labor did so. The resulting lawsuit continues to this day and many farming families still struggle with the personal and mental cost of that decision,’ he said.
‘I will not make Labor’s mistake again.’
Animal welfare activists and farmers clashed outside Emanuel’s office on Wednesday over sheep exports.
Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Tony Seabrook said up to 66,000 sheep stranded in a feedlot had to go somewhere.