Letter from Glenys | Writ against Government Minister

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Letter from Glenys Oogjes
Animals Australia, The Voice for Animals

Dear Friends,

As you are aware in November 2003 Animals Australia in conjunction with UK based group Compassion in World Farming conducted an investigation in Kuwait and documented the arrival of a shipment of Australian sheep aboard the MV Al Kuwait which had departed Fremantle 16 days earlier.

The evidence gathered in this investigation combined with 20 years of the live export industry's own research and mortalities figures led Animals Australia to lodge a historic complaint that live animal export breached Section 19 (3)(1) of the WA Animal Welfare Act. This section states that it is an offence to transport an animal in a way that causes, or is likely to cause them unnecessary harm."

The magnitude of this complaint which was supported by the expert opinions of leading members of the WA legal fraternity was lost on no-one.

Animals Australia entrusted the responsibility for investigating this complaint with the WA Police, then RSPCA WA and finally when after six months had past with no investigation commenced, with the Director-General of the Department of Local Government who holds the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the enforcement and administration of the Animal Welfare Act.

It is now 13 months since the lodging of this complaint and despite the Director-General receiving an opinion from the WA State Solicitor which we believe on good grounds supported the merits of the complaint, no investigation has commenced.

Since the complaint was laid, some 3 million sheep have been exported from Western Australia potentially in breach of WA Animal Welfare Legislation.

The vessel, the MV Al Kuwait, has returned to Fremantle on 10 occasions loading hundreds of thousands of sheep. It is currently loading in Fremantle again.

Animals Australia is today filing papers in the Supreme Court in Western Australia seeking a writ of mandamus naming the Director-General as the respondent. (see following press release) We have also lodged a complaint with the WA Crime and Corruption Commission.

With the tremendous support of our expert legal team in WA, we will explore every legal avenue to forward Animals Australia's live export complaint.We will also with utter determination call to account those who have been entrusted with the enforcement of animal welfare laws in this country, until breaches of animal welfare legislation are treated with the same priority and respect as breaches of other acts of Australian law.

For the animals,
Glenys

(media release follows)
Animals Australia The Voice for Animals

 

 

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Media Release
24 January 2005

GALLOP GOVERNMENT FAILS TO ACT ON LIVE EXPORT LEGAL COMPLAINT

Rare Supreme Court order to be filed today - Complaint lodged with WA Crime and Corruption Commission against senior public servant

High-profile Perth legal identity Martin Bennett, acting for peak animal welfare body Animals Australia, will today file papers with the Western Australian Supreme Court seeking a writ of mandamus. The Director-General of the Department of Local Government and Regional Development will be named as respondent.

Mr Bennett will lodge papers alleging that the Director-General has failed to perform her public duty. Acting on legal advice, Animals Australia will also be lodging a complaint with the Crime and Corruption Commission alleging misconduct by the Director-General, Ms Cheryl Gwilliam.

The Supreme Court has the power to make an order in the nature of mandamus, in circumstances where there is a public duty to act and there has been a failure to perform that public duty. Such an order has the effect of forcing the person who is under public duty to do that which ought to be done.

Since June 22nd 2004 the Director-General has held the responsibility for investigating Animals Australia's legal complaint that a shipment of sheep aboard the livestock vessel MV Al Kuwait that departed Fremantle for the Middle East, breached the WA Animal Welfare Act.

The evidentiary basis of the complaint has been supported by expert legal opinions and assessed by the State Solicitor, yet Director-General has failed to instigate an investigation in the six months leading up to a hotly contested state election.

"It is important to recognise that Animals Australia is not seeking the introduction of new laws.

The Parliament of Western Australia has enacted laws for the protection of animals. The rule of law requires that those who are entrusted by Parliament with the enforcement of those laws carry out their obligations and duties," said Mr Martin Bennett of Bennett & Co Barristers and Solicitors.

"Had this alleged breach of WA legislation related to 100,000 human victims there is no way that 13 months later it would remain uninvestigated. Animals Australia will ensure that every legal avenue is explored to call those to account who are entrusted with enforcing animal welfare legislation - including lodging a complaint against the Director-General with the WA Crime and Corruption Commission," said Ms Oogjes, Executive Director of Animals Australia.

The vessel MV Al Kuwait, capable of carrying over 100,000 sheep, is currently in Fremantle on its tenth return visit since the lodging of the complaint. At least 3 million sheep have left Western Australia on live export vessels potentially in breach of WA's Animal Welfare Act since Animals Australia first lodged their controversial complaint in December 2003*.

"It is outrageous that the Al Kuwait has been allowed to return to Fremantle on 10 occasions to load hundreds of thousands of sheep for the Middle East in the face of serious allegations. The Kuwaitis and their Australian agents have continued their business under the nose of authorities who are meant to be enforcing WA's animal welfare legislation," said Ms Oogjes

Animals Australia's Supreme Court legal action on the politically sensitive live export issue will not be welcomed by a Gallop government seeking to avoid controversy in the lead-up to the February 26th 2005 WA state election.

 
 
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