THE FEDERAL government has rejected plans by livestock exporter Bassem Dabbah to send vessel Bahijah and its stranded cargo of sheep and cattle via the Cape of Good Hope to Israel.

Late yesterday DAFF secretary Adam Fennessy announced Bassem Dabbah’s 26 January application for the re-export of the animals “has not been approved by my department”.

The departmental regulator was unable to be satisfied, in accordance with subsection 8-6(3) of the Export Control (Animals) Rules 2021, that:

  • the requirements of the Export Control Act 2020 (Act) in relation to the export of livestock have been complied with, or will be complied with before the livestock are imported into the importing country, and
  • the importing country requirements relating to the livestock have been met, or will be met before the livestock are imported into the importing country, and
  • the arrangements for the transport of the livestock to their final overseas destination are appropriate to ensure their health and welfare.

“In making this decision the regulator has considered all relevant information from a variety of sources. This decision-making required thorough and detailed engagement with the legislative scheme and consideration of all available evidence and submissions, in real time as this complex situation evolved,” Mr Fennessy said.

The department will publish more information on the reasons for the decision as soon as practicable.

Separately, and in response to next steps, the department is continuing to work with relevant stakeholders to manage the health and welfare of the livestock and uphold Australia’s biosecurity.

DAFF said the livestock on the vessel continue to be in good health and remain under veterinary care and supervision, although on Sunday Australia’s chief veterinary officer Dr Beth Cookson confirmed there had been a small number of deaths amongst the sheep remaining on board and some of the cattle unloaded in Fremantle on Friday night. There is no suspicion of exotic pests or diseases within the livestock.

“The next steps for the livestock onboard the vessel are commercial decisions for the exporter to make,” Mr Fennessy said. “A range of options remain available to the exporter, and the department stands ready to assess any future application submitted by the exporter.

“Now that the regulatory decision has been made, my department supports a resolution to this matter as quickly as possible and stands ready to respond to any further requests from the commercial exporter.”

Bahijah remains at slow-steaming off Fremantle.