WA exporter defies ban calls

EXCLUSIVE Brad ThompsonThe West Australian

A WA-based exporter accused of a series of animal welfare breaches is pushing ahead with controversial plans to reopen markets in Bahrain, Iran and Egypt despite calls for a ban on the firm's operations.

Livestock Shipping Services managing director Ahmad Ghosheh said the company's owners in the Middle East were encouraged by Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce's strong support for the industry despite the release of images showing the mistreatment of Australian sheep in Jordan.

Mr Ghosheh, a member of the powerful Jordanian family behind LSS and parent company Hijazi and Ghosheh Group, told _The West Australian _ about the expansion plans and strongly defended the exporter's animal welfare record.

He said the company attracted attention because of the volume of animals it exported each year - about one million sheep and 165,000 cattle.

However, high-profile Labor MP Melissa Parke, whose Fremantle electorate is the departure point for 80 per cent of Australia's sheep exports, said the company had shown contempt for Australia's animal welfare laws and urged Federal authorities to suspend its operations.

"I think this company shouldn't be allowed to operate any more," Ms Parke said.

"They shouldn't be getting any more export approvals from the Federal Government while they continue to behave in this manner which demonstrates that they are contemptuous of animal welfare."

LSS is under intense pressure over claims that about 10,000 Australian sheep were held outside approved supply chains in Jordan.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is probing three separate complaints in Jordan and a similar complaint involving Kuwait.

DAFF beefed up the approval and regulatory process for LSS exports after a similar probe in June found Australian sheep were being sold at many locations outside the approved supply chain in Jordan.

Mr Ghosheh said only some of the Australian sheep filmed being dragged by one leg, tormented by children, bundled into car boots and having their throats cut in the street were from LSS shipments to Jordan.

He said HGG was weeks away from finishing construction of an abattoir in Libya to process Australian sheep and had plans to open two other abattoirs in Gulf countries.

He said the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry was holding up the reopening of live exports to Bahrain, Iran and Egypt where LSS had customers waiting.

LSS is also helping DAFF with an inquiry into the deaths of 49 of its cattle on a flight from Australia to Kazakhstan, one of the company's new markets.

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