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Stay animal exporter hit with second licence suspension | Australia information

A company in the Emanuel Exports group has been hit with a fresh live export licence suspension, preventing a new plan to export 60,000 live sheep to the Middle East.

In a midnight announcement, the Department of Agriculture said it had suspended a second live export licence, after a reshuffle of directors in the Emanuel Exports group of companies attempted to sidestep the first suspension.

In June the department suspended the licence of Emanuel Exports, the company that stocked the Awassi Express which lost 2,400 sheep due to heat stress in 2017, pending a review into a separate incident.

On Tuesday the department confirmed that EMS Rural Exports, a wholly owned subsidiary of Emanuel Exports, had notified it of its intention to export the 60,000 sheep stranded in a feedlot in Perth using a separate licence.

Under Australian export rules, if an export licence is disqualified, other licences held by the same person are also rendered inoperable.

In an attempt to use EMS Rural Exports’ licence to export the sheep, Emanuel Exports and the subsidiary had updated their directors, removing 70-year-old Graham Daws and appointing his son, Nicholas, as director and company secretary.

The department said the fresh suspension “will remain in place pending a full review” but it was not appropriate to provide further information while the investigation is ongoing.

“Sheep that had been due for export remain in a registered feedlot,” it said in a statement. “The sheep have been inspected by the department’s veterinarians; they are in good health and well-cared for.

“Arrangements for these animals remain the responsibility of the exporter.

“Exporters are also responsible for ensuring they meet all animal welfare requirements imposed under commonwealth and state law.”

On Tuesday the agriculture minister, David Littleproud, had said he had “no power” to interfere in the operations of the independent regulator.

Emanuel is under criminal investigation, and two departmental investigations, into the company and the Awassi voyage after allegations of overstocking, failing to have sufficient food and water available, animal injury and illness not being treated, and accredited vets and stockmen leaving vessels prior to unloading.

The controversies surrounding live exports – particularly footage of the Awassi voyage – has prompted the Turnbull government to propose tougher penalties for directors who breach licence conditions and improved animal welfare measures including reducing stocking density by 28%. However, the government decided against a ban on live exports.

The Liberal MP Sussan Ley, with backing from colleagues Sarah Henderson and Jason Wood, has introduced a private members bill to ban live sheep exports in the northern summer from next year and, in five years, totally ban the transport of sheep and lambs to the Middle East or to any routes through the Persian Gulf or Red Sea.

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.

Guardian Australia has contacted the Australian Live Exporters’ Council and Emanuel Exports for comment.

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