WESTERN Australian livestock exporter International Livestock Export is concerned about the future of its cattle export operation after it was issued with a ‘show cause notice’ by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
The ILE show cause notice follows the suspension by the regulator of the export licences of Australia’s largest sheep exporter Emanuel Exports and its subsidiary EMS Rural Exports in June and July this year, following the release of video footage showing dead and dying sheep on Middle East voyages.
Former Emanuel Exports managing director Graham Daws, a shareholder in ILE, left the Emanuel Exports board in July, hoping the company could retain its licence.
However, the department subsequently cancelled the licences of Emanuel Exports and EMS Rural Exports. It is believed ILE was issued the show cause notice, because of its association with Mr Daws.
The department has refused to comment on the ILE case, but ILE believes the regulator is concerned Emanuel Exports may use the ILE export licence to export sheep to Middle East, despite ILE being predominantly a cattle exporter up to Asia.
ILE managing director Michael Stanton said the company responded to the show cause notice by an October 8 deadline with a 60-page submission.
The submission stated it was not possible for ILE to export sheep to Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, given the requirement for an approved export program to supply those markets, which would require approval by DAWR. ILE has no intention to supply these markets, the company said.
The show cause notice related to all of ILE’s export. It is understood the company can continue to trade while the Department considers its submission; however, the company believes the show cause notice introduces an element of uncertainty.
ILE is hoping its show cause response will allay any concerns DAWR has, but given the regulator’s recent decisions to cancel the licenses of Emanuel Exports and EMS Rural, the company is rightly concerned about the future of its license, a spokesman said.
Mr Stanton said supporting his company’s case was the requirement for any exporter to be part of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System for those markets, which ILE was not.
This approval would also require DAWR approval.
He said ILE had, as recently as April, sent a small number of fat-tailed sheep to the Middle East, but had since closed that supply chain after the client ended its breeding business in WA.
“While we are confident we have clearly demonstrated ILE cannot be influenced, this action by DAWR makes us nervous.
“We have 20,000 cattle in the system for our schedule of shipments. If we had to stop operating, this would cause major animal welfare issues and would not be in the best interest of the industry,” Mr Stanton said.
ILE exports or arranges processing for about 130,000 cattle a year, most from the Kimberley and Pilbara, and are exported via Broome and Fremantle to South-East Asia. It supplies a small number of sheep to the same markets.