IN THE NEWS: On JAN 17, 2020
Former bosses of a West Perth-based live export company charged after 2400 sheep died on a ship bound for the Middle East have pleaded not guilty to a list of animal cruelty charges.
Former Emmanuel Exports directors Graham Daws and Michael Stanton pledged their innocence in Perth Magistrates Court on Friday to 16 charges each of being a person who was cruel to an animal.
As the ex-board members entered their pleas, a group of anti-live export activists campaigned outside the courthouse with pickets in an effort to remind people of the “reality of live export” with hundreds of animals dying per voyage.
Animal Justice Party member Jenhi Thomas-Wurth said she wanted to bear witness to the prosecution of Mr Daws and Mr Stanton and planned to have a presence on Hay Street throughout their trials.
“We'd actually like to see 2400 counts of animal cruelty charges but we'll take the 16,” she said. “We do like the fact that they have been prosecuted.”
Mr Daws was charged after about 2400 sheep died on an Emanuel Exports ship in August 2017, mostly due to heat stress, after a whistleblower filmed the conditions on the ship and provided the footage to Animals Australia.
The footage was the subject of a 60 Minutes investigation into animal cruelty and conditions on board live export ships, which eventually led to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority docking the Awassi Express vessel in Fremantle in 2018 after it failed an inspection.
Ms Thomas-Wurth said this example of animal cruelty was not an isolated incident and in fact happened on every live export voyage.
“The average number is 500 to 600 animals per voyage dying.
“You've also got to take into account that that's the mortality rate but in effect all of those animals on those ships have suffered," she said.
Ms Thomas-Wurth said there were other export options available that were more financially beneficial to Australia.
“We'd like to see it [live export] phase out and the producers to support other business models such as chilled meat exports.
“They [animals] would be processed here and sent offshore ... they are slaughtered here … and then they're sent off shore.
“It actually maximises the profits. Live exporting is subsidised while chilled meat has a tariff on it so it's actually of more value to the Australian economy, it keeps the jobs here too.”
Stop Live Exports' Brigit Anderson, who has been campaigning against the practice for about 30 years, said she wanted to keep the public’s awareness of the “horrible industry”.
“All the people that have seen the footage agree that it's just terrible,” she said. “There are alternatives.
“We want to see justice done to those who have openly broken the law. I don't feel that the charges are enough, I feel like that's far from an acceptable amount of death.”
Ms Anderson said the industry wasn’t regulated properly and wanted to see much higher charges and much stricter punishment for these crimes.
Emanuel Exports had also been warned previously of possible prosecution over a July 2016 shipment, where 3027 of 69,322 sheep died.