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Wednesday, 3 September 2008
Page: 7001

Mr TRUSS (Leader of the Nationals) (12:58 PM) —Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek to make a personal explanation.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr MJ Washer)—Please proceed.

Mr TRUSS —In debate on the Horse Disease Response Levy Bill 2008, the members for Longman, Wakefield and Kennedy made a series of personal attacks on me which were both false and offensive. The member for Longman said that the Australian Racing Board wrote to me warning of ‘the dangers of replacing AQIS vets with cargo staff’. The AQIS proposal was to use specialist equine vets, not cargo staff, to take blood samples from arriving horses in Melbourne. Referring to the equine influenza outbreak, he then said that I ‘made changes that made this outbreak more likely’. This statement is simply false. The outbreak occurred in New South Wales, not Melbourne, where the AQIS veterinary issues were being discussed. In New South Wales, AQIS vets continue to take the blood samples. In fact, I was the minister who doubled the size of the quarantine service.

The member for Wakefield went even further, again quoting out of context from the letter from the Australian Racing Board and my reply, and said that I ‘dismissed legitimate industry concerns’. That is not true; I responded. In fact, the state racing ministers wrote to me in May 2005 congratulating me on my actions in relation to the quarantine issues in Melbourne. The member for Wakefield went on to say something that I found particularly offensive: that I had ‘culpability in the equine influenza outbreak’. I had not been minister for over two years when that outbreak occurred. The Callinan inquiry did not make any adverse findings against me, and I think those remarks were uncalled for.

Finally, the member for Kennedy made a whole lot of statements. I will not bother to respond to them. I just refer the House to my speech on 20 February where I responded to similar allegations made by the member for Kennedy on 8 February.