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Rudd Government support for Australian Equestrian Olympic Team.



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The Hon Kate Ellis MP Minister for Sport

The Hon Tony Burke MP Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

3 APRIL 2008

Rudd Government support for Australian Equestrian Olympic Team

The Rudd Labor Government will provide $1.5 million to the Australian Equestrian Olympic Team to boost preparations for the Beijing Olympics, in the aftermath of the recent equine influenza outbreak.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Tony Burke, and Minister for Sport Kate Ellis announced the funding as the team prepares for the Beijing Olympics in August.

The support will be made available through the Equestrian Federation of Australia - the peak body managing Australia’s Olympic team.

“The outbreak of equine influenza has affected the team’s Olympic preparations, including forcing the cancellation of last year’s Australian Olympic qualifying events,” Mr Burke said.

“The Equestrian Federation asked the Rudd Government if it could assist and we were happy to take up their request.

“The funding will allow prospective Olympic riders, horses and support staff to travel overseas to access quality training, competition and Olympic qualification opportunities which are not available in Australia.”

Ms Ellis said equestrians face substantial costs themselves in preparing for the Olympics and equine influenza hit them particularly hard.

“I understand some riders were talking about selling the horses they have been training for the 2012 London Olympics, to fund the 2008 Beijing campaign,” Ms Ellis said.

“This would have had a serious impact on our equestrian Olympic chances for future Olympic Games.

“The Rudd Government is providing equestrians with a leg-up to succeed at the Beijing Games.”

President of the Equestrian Federation of Australia Geoff Sinclair welcomed the funding, saying Australian riders were having great difficulty qualifying for the Games following the equine influenza outbreak.

“Minister Burke and Minister Ellis understood the massive strain and disadvantage to these athletes in one of Australia’s gold medal-winning sports,” Mr Sinclair said.

Mr Burke’s office: Ann-Marie Wilcock 0413 872 275 Ms Ellis’ office: Brent Hooley 0434 561 033

Joint Media Release

The Hon Tony Burke, MP - Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry The Hon Kate Ellis MP - Minister for Sport

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Mr Burke’s office: Ann-Marie Wilcock 0413 872 275 Ms Ellis’ office: Brent Hooley 0434 561 033

“The whole equestrian community and especially the National squads, who are finalising their preparation, thank the Australian Government for understand the issue and providing decisive support.

“Past gold medal winners like [Stuart] Tinney and [Wendy] Schaeffer and other contenders will benefit from the extra training, veterinary care and other support this funding will provide.”

Active surveillance has not found any new infected horses since December 2007 and Australia was declared provisionally free of equine influenza on 13 March 2008.

Australia is one of the few countries in the world to successfully eradicate equine influenza.