Police probe sheep breach claim

26 Feb, 2004 07:00 PM
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THE WA Police Department is expected to decide within days if it will act on an Animals Australia complaint that WA live sheep exports potentially breached the state's new Animal Welfare Act.

The Melbourne-based animal activist group, which vows to bring all livestock exports to an end, says it lodged the complaint with an "extensive file" of evidence with the WA police in December.

It alleges the MV Al Kuwait, which left Fremantle on November 11 last year, breached a section of the Animal Welfare Act 2002 which says transporting an animal in a way that will cause it unnecessary harm is an offence.

The evidence included film footage by Animals Australia employee Lyn White and a British based Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) representative who met the ship when it docked in Kuwait.

They claim to have filmed dead, dying, blind and sick sheep on the ship and while being unloaded with one crew estimating up to 1000 sheep died before arrival.

Ms White said they also filmed the handling and slaughter of Australian sheep at a Kuwaiti slaughterhouse.

She says the footage was so graphic and distressing it would be first shown to Government decision-makers and, if necessary to the public.

Animals Australia executive director Glenys Oogjes said top legal opinion indicated the new Act, which came into effect in April last year, would apply outside Australia because elements leading to the complaint originated in WA.

"Expert advice received from two of Perth's leading barristers confirmed our belief that every export vessel that leaves WA potentially breaches section 19 (3) of the Animal Welfare Act," she said.

"Undoubtedly there will be enormous public interest and possibly a degree of political pressure to bear on this investigation.

"Quite simply, it could bring live animal exports from WA to an end."

She said they would not accept any animal deaths in transport and WA-based People Against Cruelty in Animal Transport had lodged another two complaints against the Al Kuwait.

WA exported half of Australia's live sheep last year valued at $342m.

Meanwhile animal activist Ralph Hahnheuser has been remanded to appear in the Warrnambool Magistrate's Court on March 16 to face charges of contaminating product to cause economic loss, with a secondary charge of trespassing.

The charges stem from last year when a Portland export feedlot was contaminated with pork to make the sheep ineligible for Middle Eastern markets.

Industry and shipping expenses rose as the Australian Government stopped the sheep leaving until the importing country guaranteed the sheep would be accepted.

The Australian Farmers Fighting Fund will be used to fund a Federal Court injunction preventing animal rights activists from interfering with facilities involved with livestock exports from Australian ports.

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COMMENTS

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Australia's live animal trade is nothing but a blood stained industry that suits those who