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Quarantine improvements continue after equine influenza inquiry.

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

Quarantine improvements continue after equine influenza inquiry

26 November 2008 DAFF08/165B

The Rudd Government today released an independent report showing it is on-track to deliver on all the recommendations from the 2007 equine influenza inquiry.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke said the report from Professor Peter Shergold AC found the implementation had been ‘of a high standard’ to October 2008.

Mr Burke has asked Professor Shergold, the former Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department, to provide three reports annually over the next two years.

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

“The Government understands the devastating impact of equine influenza on everyone connected to the horse industry,” Mr Burke said.

“We will continue to ensure that all of Commissioner Callinan’s recommendations are implemented, to help make our quarantine and biosecurity system as rigorous as possible.”

Today Mr Burke released Professor Shergold’s first report, which states the implementation of all recommendations is on track and a number have been completed ahead of schedule.

The Government has already acted on a range of recommendations including:

• Revised interim quarantine measures and import conditions; • Upgraded facilities at the Melbourne and Sydney international airports and Spotswood and Easter Creek quarantine stations; • Updated work instructions for quarantine officers and private sector personnel; • The appointment of an interim Inspector General of Horse Importation; • The establishment of an Expert Group chaired by the Commonwealth Chief Veterinary

Officer; and • The establishment of the Horse Industry Consultative Committee

Professor Shergold also raised the issue of the cost of implementation, describing biosecurity as a ‘highly resource intensive business’.

He states importers’ fees may have to rise to cover the cost of implementing some recommendations and suggests this could be phased in.

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