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More progress on biosecurity improvements after equine influenza inquiry

The Government today released the second independent report showing it continues to make improvements to Australia’s biosecurity after the 2007 equine influenza outbreak.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke released the report by Professor Peter Shergold, who has been appointed to independently verify that the Government’s response to the Callinan Inquiry report is being implemented.

His second report finds the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry ‘continues to make good progress’ implementing that response.

The Callinan report, which was released in June 2008, made 38 recommendations which the Government accepted in full.

Mr Burke said industry estimated the equine influenza outbreak cost at least $1 billion and the Government would continue to improve Australia’s biosecurity measures.

“We need a rigorous biosecurity system to help protect our agricultural industries against pests and disease,” Mr Burke said.

“I am pleased Professor Shergold has delivered such positive feedback on our progress implementing our response to the Callinan Inquiry.”

Mr Burke acknowledged Professor Shergold’s finding that there is: “genuine concern that, in the absence of legislation guaranteeing government aid, many horse owners could face crippling financial exposure if equine influenza was to reoccur.”

“In my own dealings with representative groups I have become aware of the frustration of many in the industry about the defeat in the Senate in February 2009 of the Horse Disease Levy Bill.”

Professor Peter Shergold

“I have told Professor Shergold that I understand the horse industry is currently considering the implications of this outcome and possible next steps,” Mr Burke said.

“I share the concerns of the horse industry and agree with Professor Shergold’s assessment that the defeat of the Bill may significantly weaken the readiness of the horse industry for possible future exotic disease outbreaks.”

All recommendations from the Callinan Inquiry are on-track to be delivered within the agreed timeframes, or ahead of schedule.

by S. C.
03 june 2009, World News > Oceania