IN THE NEWS: Awassi Express exporters set to sail with sheep left stranded by suspension

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IN THE NEWS: On JUL 10, 2018

Awassi Express exporters set to sail with sheep left stranded by suspension

The operators behind the Awassi Express disaster, in which thousands of sheep died in searing heat en route to the Middle East, appear set to export again despite having one of their three export licences suspended just a fortnight ago following freshly uncovered historical breaches of animal welfare standards.

Fairfax Media has learned the owners of Emanuel Exports have applied to the federal agriculture department to use one of their two sister licences to ship up to 60,000 sheep left stranded in West Australia by the June 22 suspension.

The suspension was meant to have knocked out the bulk of the live export trade, rendered unviable without the industry's biggest player.

But sources said it was likely the Department of Agriculture would grant Nicholas Daws, director of Emanuel Exports, a permit to ship the sheep using the licence of another Emanuel Exports associated company called EMS Rural Exports.

If granted, the sheep would be loaded within days onto the Kuwaiti flagged Al Shuwaikh boat which is currently docked at Fremantle in Western Australia. Al Shuwaikh would be sailing to the Middle East during one of the region's hottest months, where temperatures near 50 degrees.

The West Australian government had been encouraging Emanuel Exports to send the sheep to a local abattoir for slaughter instead of shipment.

The federal government is resisting pressure to ban the live export trade outright and has instead imposed tougher welfare standards, credited with causing major exporter LSS to retreat from the summer trade.

It had been speculated that by suspending one of Emanuel Exports' licences, the entire live export trade would be knocked out because Emanuel Exports is the largest player.

But that now appears not to be the case. A suspension of an operator's licence cannot affect any others they might hold unless their licence is disqualified. Emanuel Exports' licence is currently only suspended as the investigation takes place. Any decision on a disqualification or reinstatement is still many weeks away.

ASIC documents show Graham Daws quietly resigned his positions as director and company secretary of Emanuel Exports seven days after the government suspended the company's licence, leaving his son, Nicholas, as sole director.

Sources said they expected Nicholas Daws would attempt to paint the handover as a generational changing of the guard with the 39-year-old committed to animal welfare. Graham Daws would not comment when contacted by Fairfax Media overnight but said his retirement had been long planned.

The revelation will cause a political headache for the government which is under fierce parliamentary pressure to legislate a ban.

Former cabinet minister Sussan Ley has put forward a private member's bill for a ban. It is supported by the opposition which has attempted to move its own amendments to phase out the live export trade.

Fairfax Media has previously revealed that the governmment's own review, commissioned after the Awassi Express horror was first broadcast by the Nine Network's 60 Minutes program, recommended strict animal welfare conditions that would have rendered the trade unviable had they been implemented.

But the government did not proceed with that recommendation, because Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said he could not oversee an immediate demise of the industry without further review.

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