Live sheep trader Emanuel Exports has applied to the Federal Department of Agriculture for permission to ship to the Middle East during this northern summer.
Emanuel’s licence was temporarily suspended in June, following a show cause notice issued by the Department. Around 60,000 sheep were set to be shipped at the time the export permit was cancelled.
It is understood that Emanuel has applied for a new export licence through a subsidiary company while the Department’s investigation is underway.
Emanuel Exports operated the Awassi Express vessel which conducted a controversial voyage to the Middle East in August last year where 2400 sheep out of 63,804 - was recorded for the voyage which exceeded the mortality standard of 2 per cent.
The Department said in a statement it would assess any export licence application on its merits.
Any export would have to be consistent with the additional conditions imposed on export licences following the McCarthy Review, including reduced stocking density, an independent audit of Pen Air Turnover and a reduced notifiable mortality level as well as an independent observer on board to monitor the performance of the accredited veterinarian with daily reports.
“All applications for exports are considered in accordance with the relevant legislation,” the statement said.
“Consistent with our legislative responsibilities, the Department is undertaking the necessary regulatory work ahead of any potential export.
In June, the Department said Emanuel’s licence would remain suspended until a full review of the company’s response to the show cause notice was complete.
When questioned on the progress of the investigation the Department said today it did not comment on the arrangements of individual exporters or on its ongoing investigations.
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said export permits are granted by the independent industry regulator.
“I have no power to interfere in the operations of the independent regulator. I have official advice from the regulator confirming I have no power in these matters,” Mr Littleproud said.
Labor Agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon, who wants to shut down the live trade, said Emanuel was “kicking sand in the Turnbull Government’s face” by seeking a licence through a subsidiary.
While he conceded legal difficulties stand in Mr Littleproud’s way should he wish to step in and prevent Emanuel from exporting, he said he would support the Minister to overcome the obstacles.
“I am sure there is a way we can do this together. I suspect the abolition of all the export license related to those entities would do the trick. But whatever he chooses to do, if he is prepared to use some muscle, we will stand by him to stop these 60,000 sheep leaving Australia,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
Mr Fitzgibbon said the government’s increased regulation of the industry seemed
to be a strategy to “kill the trade by regulation rather than accept the model is broken and that farmers need support to transition to something different”.
He advocated Labor’s plan to increase onshore processing with “an orderly transition out of the industry and a plan to take sheepmeat producers to something more sustainably profitable”.