Doubt on sheep case charges

Headshot of Jenne Brammer
Jenne BrammerCountryman
Emanuel directors Graham Daws and Mike Stanton face maximum penalties of $50,000 or five years imprisonment.
Camera IconEmanuel directors Graham Daws and Mike Stanton face maximum penalties of $50,000 or five years imprisonment. Credit: Justin Benson-Cooper

Emanuel Exports and its two directors are unlikely to be convicted for alleged animal cruelty after charges by the McGowan Government, according to Liberal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson, inset, who says the issue is outside the State’s jurisdiction.

At the Pastoralists and Graziers Association annual convention last Friday, Mr Wilson cited a previous 2008 case against the same company and two directors for cruelty involving a 2003 shipment to the Middle East, aboard MV Al Kuwait.

In that case, the magistrate found Emanuel had breached the WA Animal Welfare Act, but the company and directors were acquitted because Commonwealth law, which permits live export, overrides the State Animal Welfare Act.

Mr Wilson said he was disappointed the State Government was “chasing” Emanuel Exports over a 2017 incident because the issue was outside its jurisdiction and time and money could be better spent elsewhere within the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

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“The 18 months and resources that DPIRD has put into the investigation, and the upcoming court battles, means money is being taken out of the department that could be used for research and development and other good things,” Mr Wilson said.

“Instead, resources are being used to pursue a case that my legal advice says has very little chance of succeeding.

Emanuel directors Graham Daws and Mike Stanton face maximum penalties of $50,000 or five years imprisonment, and the company can be fined a maximum of $250,000 for cruelty aboard a 2017 sheep voyage from Fremantle to the Middle East.

Conditions were filmed by whistleblowers working for Animals Australia, causing a major public backlash.

DPIRD started investigating the issue before the footage being released, which included raids on Emanuel Exports’ West Perth office and the Anna Marra ship (previously called Awassi Express).

WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said DPIRD got involved in the issue in February 2018 because the Federal Government at the time was in a “state of denial about problems in the live export industry”.

She said DPIRD felt there was a breach of the Act, so had an obligation to bring this before the courts.

Regarding the 2008 case against Emanuels, Ms MacTiernan said the State Solicitor at the time recommended it could have been appealed. She said the Federal legislative framework made many references acknowledging it was not designed to override obligations under State law.

Mr Wilson said it was also disappointing there had been very little more heard from DPIRD about its investigation into two northern Indigenous-run cattle stations, where thousands of cattle had died or required euthanising over the dry summer months.

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