The RSPCA understands the loading of thousands of sheep onto the three-decades-old Al Shuwaikh in Fremantle is imminent.
It is evident the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is about to officially grant an export permit to Emanuel’s sister company, EMS Rural Exports, despite previously suspending Emanuel’s own export license, and despite the high risk these animals will face.
Emanuel Exports licence has been suspended pending a criminal investigation into breaches of export regulations – yet the company is seeking to export these animals through one of its associated companies, which currently has a live export licence.
The Department has a regulatory obligation to ensure travel arrangements are adequate for the animals’ health and welfare.
It is clear the Department is failing to uphold this regulatory duty, as these animals will be subject to 40-50 degree temperatures in the Persian Gulf and will inevitably suffer heat stress and mortality.
The Department appears to remain hell-bent on facilitating the trade at all costs, despite the growing evidence and public outrage.
Australians cannot wait until the outcome of yet another review (the Moss Review) to rectify this abysmal failure of regulatory responsibility.
The RSPCA is calling upon the Turnbull Government to exercise its power under the Export Control Act 1982 to stop this shipment from departing and prevent these animals from experiencing this truly horrendous ordeal.
The Minister has the power to act, and there are extensive precedents for similar actions.
The Minister has wide-ranging legislative power to intervene by Ministerial Order under the Export Control Act 1982:
The Minister may, by instrument in writing, make orders, not inconsistent with regulations made under the Act, with respect to any matters for or in relation to which provision may be made by regulations made under the Act.
This power has been used by Agriculture Ministers from both sides of politics on many occasions in the past.
This is truly a defining moment for the Turnbull Government on its commitment to animal welfare, which the Australian community will be watching closely.