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Tribunal: Deputy President P Britten-Jones and Senior Member M Evans-Bonner

Emanuel Exports Pty Ltd (Emanuel/the applicant) is a livestock exporter based in Western Australia. In August 2017, during a voyage of the MV Awassi Express from Fremantle to Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, 2,400 of the 63,804 sheep being exported died from heat and exhaustion on board the sea vessel.  

Following a formal complaint from the animal rights organisation Animals Australia, the First Assistant Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (the Secretary/the respondent) issued a show cause notice to the applicant on 1 May 2018.

The Secretary subsequently suspended the applicant’s livestock export licence on 22 June 2018 and cancelled the licence on 21 August 2018. The Secretary also suspended and later cancelled the licence of EMS Rural Exports Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the applicant with close ties to Emanuel Exports. The primary reason for the cancellation of the licences was that the applicant had ceased to be a body corporate of integrity.

One of the main grounds for the above licence suspension, backed by expert evidence, was the misleading provision of Pen Air Turnover values (‘PAT scores’) by Emanuel’s then managing director, putting the livestock at increased risk of mortality from overcrowding, and hot and humid conditions aboard the vessel. The Secretary also relied on historical evidence where, in 2014, the then managing director had also incorrectly doubled the PAT scores.

Emanuel applied to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a review of the licence cancellations in September 2018.

The Tribunal considered whether the applicants had made sufficient changes to their systems to demonstrate that they were bodies corporate of integrity. The applicants submitted that they were bodies corporate of integrity because their managing director had resigned, and the company had set up new governance procedures to ensure compliance with the necessary regulations and to ensure animal welfare. The respondent submitted the Tribunal should affirm its original decision due to the seriousness of the historical events, the ongoing involvement of the previous managing director in the company’s affairs and the failure of the companies to rehabilitate themselves.

The Tribunal found the evidence in favour of the applicant and determined that there was sufficient rehabilitation. The Tribunal set aside the reviewable decisions made by the Secretary and substituted new decisions. Emanuel Exports Pty Ltd and EMS Rural Exports Pty Ltd licence suspension ended effective 3 December 2021.

Read the full decision on AustLII.