THE Australian government has suspended the licence of a live sheep exporter and although it didn’t name the company, every sheep farmer and his dog know that it is Emanuel Exports.
The Department of Agriculture says the licence will remain suspended pending a full review of the company’s response to a ‘show cause’ notice.
“The laws that regulate the export of livestock include strict requirements to ensure the health and welfare of animals,” a department statement says. “It is the responsibility of each exporter to ensure it meets those obligations.
“It is not appropriate for the department to provide more information while the investigation is ongoing.”
The Australian Broadcasting Corp, not one to have the wool pulled over its eyes, immediately said it was Emanuel Exports, Australia’s largest live sheep exporter.
“The department sent a show-cause notice to Emanuel Exports last month, and it is understood the company responded with a 30-page statement,” the broadcaster said.
A horror voyage on an Emauel ship last year saw 2,400 sheep die of thirst and heat, some literally baking to death.
Photos of the sheep sparked national outrage and led to a government inquiry into the export trade.
Emanuel Exports said in a statement it will cooperate fully with the department in its review.
RSPCA Australia called the suspension another step toward the inevitable end of cruel, long-haul live sheep exports.
“We have long said that if the laws were enforced, live export would become impossible, senior policy officer Jed Goodfellow said. “This is evidence of that.”
The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council told ABC it was still absorbing the announcement and its implications for the industry worth A$250 million (£140.25 million) a year.
Earlier, the Western Australian state Department of Agriculture executed a search warrant on the Perth headquarters of Emanuel Exports as it investigates the horrific deaths of 2,400 sheep on a live export shipment last year.
Emanuel Exports’ director Nicholas Daws said the company would cooperate with any validly issued warrant but that it does not believe the state government has a legal basis to investigate live export because the trade comes under federal law.
Meantime, Livestock Shipping Services chief executive Ahmed Gosheh said the second-biggest live exporter would not carry sheep from Australia to the Middle East during the northern summer because of the new 30 per cent cut in legal stocking density. Gosheh told the West Australian newspaper the reduction would have raised costs by A$35 (£19.64) a sheep.
The company said it is redirecting its ships to South America while it reviews the commercial viability of operations in Australia.