IN THE NEWS: On FEB 8, 2008
In a landmark animal cruelty trial, a Perth magistrate has today ruled that Australia's live export industry is cruel.
Evidence gathered by Animals Australia in 2003 was presented during the 8-day long trial in which cruelty charges were laid against Emanuel Exports Pty Ltd (the largest live sheep export company in WA) and its two Directors in relation to a routine shipment to the Middle East, from Fremantle, WA.
Magistrate Catherine Crawford found the charge of transporting animals in a manner likely to cause them unnecessary harm proven beyond reasonable doubt. Yet despite this breach of the WA Animal Welfare Act being proven, the magistrate was forced to acquit the defendants on a 'technicality' due to the fact that they had been issued an export permit by the Commonwealth government.
"Magistrate Crawford's finding is not only damning for the industry, as this was a routine shipment," said Animals Australia's Director, Glenys Oogjes, "but politically it is groundbreaking. There is now immense pressure on the Federal government to respect state law."
In effect, her ruling means that any export permit from the Federal government which includes heavier sheep in the second half of the year (which are the primary types of sheep and the peak time for exports) will be permitting illegal (under state law) animal cruelty. Any such a permit will also allow live exporters to breach the WA Animal Welfare Act.
The question is will the Rudd government defend this trade and allow it to continue now that its inherent cruelty has been legally established? If they do, the Commonwealth will be undermining the power of the state to protect animals.
Had the previous government not granted the export permit in the case on trial – Australia's leading live export company, Emanuel Exports Pty Ltd and its two Directors would have been convicted of animal cruelty on Friday.
"It is no longer animal advocates stating that elements of the live export industry are cruel and unnecessary – it is the finding of a magistrate. The Rudd government must act on this ruling by not approving export permits that allow exporters to breach state animal welfare regulations. To do otherwise, would not only be knowingly permitting cruelty, but undermining the ability of the state legislation to protect animals from cruelty." concluded Glenys Oogjes.