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Tuesday, 21 March 1972
Page: 691

Senator LAWRIE (QUEENSLAND) - I ask a question of the Minister for Health. I refer to the reported import of 88 horses which have been placed in quarantine near Penrith because of an outbreak of strangles on the ship. Is the Minister confident that this airborne virus horse disease can be contained? In view of the large concentration of horses from all over Australia at the Sydney Show and for the Sydney Cup racing carnival, is there not a big risk of the disease spreading? As there has not been a major outbreak of strangles in Australia for many years and as the horse population has thus become vulnerable, will every precaution be taken to prevent an outbreak of the disease and so minimise the economic loss which this would cause?

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON On Friday last, I think, I issued a Press statement in which I advised what action had to be taken in relation to the horses that were due to arrive in Australia. I am sure that everybody would agree that action had to be taken. If the system works as it should, a copy of the Press release should have been put in the honourable senator's mail box ere this. There is no clinical evidence of disease in the horses other than strangles. In my statement I did point out that strangles is a complaint which is not unknown in Australia. The concentration of horses in the Sydney area at present is realised. It was for the protection of those horses, among other things, that action was taken. Very strict quarantine has been imposed on the imported horses. The object of the quarantine is to ensure that there is no risk of the spread of the disease, strangles. The quarantine has taken place, not because the disease, strangles, might have been present or because there might have been evidence of it, but because behind the strangles might have been implications of some other disease which could be subject to quarantine provisions. I make it abundantly clear that I completely confirmed the action taken by the Department of Health and agreed to it, not so much because of the strangles but because of the possibility that behind the complaint some other notifiable disease could be lurking. The property at Penrith has been declared a temporary quarantine station and all movements onto and from the property have been and are being strictly controlled in accordance with the requirements of the animal quarantine regulations. Every precaution has been taken to prevent any further outbreak of the strangles disease or any other disease which could possibly emerge.

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