Sheep into an oven

A SHEEP ship granted an exemption to sail into the Middle East summer will arrive in Kuwait in a heatwave.

The Al Kuwait has been at the centre of a political storm while stuck in Fremantle for the last month because of a Covid-19 outbreak, but this week won approal to sail north with 56,000 sheep. Animals Australia failed to get the exemption overturned by the Federal Court.

A ban on exporting live animals during the northern summer was introduced earlier this year in response to the Awassi Express disaster where thousands of sheep died of heat stress in August 2017.

Last Saturday federal agriculture department deputy secretary David Hazelhurst over-ruled a subordinate’s decision to enforce the ban in the Al Kuwait case, citing trade and Covid-19; the sheep are worth $6 million.

The Al Kuwait will be heading into temperatures similar to those that greeted the Awassi Express when it reaches the Middle East.

Temperatures will hover in the mid-40s, rising to next Wednesday when the comfort meter says it will “feel like” 49C.

Fremantle Labor MP Josh Wilson told federal parliament on Thursday it was “the latest episode in the disaster-riddled live sheep export trade circus”.

“A live export ship, having decided to run hard up against the summer moratorium deadlined, arrives in WA with a number of crew members infected with coronavirus,” Mr Wilson said.

“On that basis it is very hard to understand the [agriculture] department’s backflip in approving an exemption for the live export of sheep, especially now that it’s nearly three weeks further into the summer moratorium period.”

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