|Meeting Minutes 3 PDF||9||80 KB|
If you have difficulty accessing this file, please visit web accessibility.
Wednesday 22 April 2009
10:00am – 1:00pm
AQIS New South Wales – Regional Office
|Ann McDonald||AQIS - Chair|
|Quentin Wallace||International Racehorse Transport|
|Crispin Bennett||Crispin Bennett International Horse Transport|
|Josh Murphy||New Zealand Bloodstock|
|Franz Venhaus||Equestrian Australia|
|Paul O’Callaghan||Racing Victoria Limited|
|Peter McGauran||Thoroughbred Breeders Australia|
|Andrew Kelly||Harness Racing Australia|
|Kevin Doyle||Australian Veterinary Association|
|Robyn Martin||Biosecurity Australia|
|Brant Smith||Biosecurity Australia|
|Phillip Widders||AQIS – NSW|
|Wayne Burcher||AQIS – NSW|
|Murli Baker-Gabb||AQIS – Horse Imports|
|Scott Channing||AQIS – Horse Imports|
|Frank Mondello||Sydney Airport Limited|
|Sarah Renner||Melbourne Airport|
|Paul Hickey||Quarantine and Expert Advisory Committee|
|Chris Burke||International Racehorse Transport|
|Patricia Ellis||Australian Horse Industry Council|
|Barry Smyth||Australian Horse Industry Council|
1. Welcome and Introductions
The Chair welcomed and thanked those in attendance for the third Horse Industry Consultative Committee (HICC) meeting, especially the Hon Peter McGauran representing Thoroughbred Breeders Australia, Professor Shergold and others attending for the first time.
2. Minutes and Action Items
The Chair called for any further comments on the minutes from the second HICC meeting. The minutes from the second HICC meeting were accepted. The Chair discussed each of the action items arising from the second meeting and advised that all items had been completed and that a couple of items were subject to discussion later in the meeting.
3. AQIS Horse Import Program Finance Report - Fees
The Chair introduced the Horse Imports Program finance report which showed that as at 31 March 2009 the Program had a deficit of $1.414m. Expenditure for the year to date was $2.303m and revenue was $0.889m. The Chair advised that the Program is expecting to have an accumulated deficit of over $2.0m by the end of the current financial year. The accumulated deficit includes $0.70m of horse related expenditure incurred during the 2007-08 financial year.
The Chair informed the Committee members that following receipt of the review reports on post-arrival quarantine facilities and procedures by the Expert Group and Biosecurity Australia, AQIS had reduced staffing levels at the airport. The reduction in staff numbers would help to minimise the upward pressure on fee for the importation of horses.
The Chair provided a breakdown of some of the Program expenditure including:
- the number of full-time equivalents (FTEs) across the Program - 3.55 FTEs in the ACT, 2.94 FTEs in New South Wales and 1.28 FTEs in Victoria;
- property and accommodation costs consisting of rent of $0.482m for Spotswood and $0.112m for Eastern Creek and the Canberra Office, as well as $0.189m for outgoings such as electricity, water, pest control, building maintenance and cleaning.
HICC members raised concerns with the property rental costs and how it was calculated and attributed to the Program, especially the rent at Spotswood Quarantine Station. It was suggested that rental should be calculated based on usage of the quarantine station rather than the area occupied for each animal commodity group. Horse importers suggested that they could keep horses in the stables and not use the turn out yards, this would reduce the area needed for horse imports and therefore the amount of rent attributed to the Horse Import Program.
- AQIS agreed to re-examine the calculation of rental expenditure at Spotswood Quarantine Station and how it is attributed to the Horse Import Program.
The Chair advised members that recent AQIS cost-modelling calculated that the daily fee for horse imports would need to rise from $65 a day to $290 a day if both Eastern Creek and Spotswood quarantine station remain open for horse imports and the deficit was to be recovered over the next two years. Following the suggestion from industry at HICC Finance Sub-committee meeting that it may be preferable to close Spotswood Quarantine Station to horses, the Chair also outlined options for the daily horse import fee if Spotswood was not used for horse imports, depending on the date at which Spotswood ceased to be used. The options ranged from $230 a day if horse imports ceased using Spotswood from 1 July 2009 to $270 a day if horse imports exited Spotswood from 1 November 2010 (date of Spotswood lease expiration).
HICC members raised concerns and potential risks with the suggestion that Spotswood cease to be used for horse imports and indicated a preference for the quarantine station to continue to receive imported horses. Members were also gravely concerned about the significant increase in horse import fees and advised that such fees would be crippling for horse importers and sections of the horse industry. Horse importers warned that such a rise in fees would result in a dramatic fall in the number of horses imported which would further affect the Horse Import Program budget and attempts to recover the Program deficit.
The Chair advised that AQIS could aim to recover the Program’s accumulated deficit over three years which would reduce the daily horse import fee to $270 assuming both Eastern Creek and Spotswood quarantine stations are used for horse imports. The Chair appreciated the concerns of HICC members and agreed to discuss the horse import fees further within the Department. In the meantime, not wanting to pre-empt any decision the Minister might make but mindful that businesses needed to plan ahead, the Chair suggested horse importers could assume the new import fees of $270 a day may be in place by 1 August 2009.
4. Expert Group and Biosecurity Australia Post-arrival Quarantine Review Reports
The Chair advised HICC members that AQIS was still considering the recommendations from the post-arrival quarantine review reports, especially Biosecurity Australia’s report. The Chair advised that AQIS is seeking industry views on the reports’ recommendations and how they could be best implemented prior to the response being finalised. Specifically, the Chair discussed the following recommendations from the Expert Group report:
Surgical facilities at quarantine stations
The Chair discussed work quotes (amounting to close to $100,000) that AQIS had received in relation to upgrading the surgical facilities at Spotswood Quarantine Station. HICC members agreed that the most efficient and equitable arrangement would be for AQIS to provide the facilities and recover the costs through import fees. Thoroughbred Breeders Australia indicated that they would be able to provide financial assistance given that much of the equipment will be portable and could be moved to a different location if necessary. It was agreed that all facilities at the quarantine stations should be used equitably by all users. The Chair confirmed that arrangements were in place for vets from the Melbourne University Veterinary Clinic to attend to horses at Spotswood Quarantine Station.
There were differing views regarding the provision of a horse crush at the quarantine stations. It was noted that whilst a horse crush had been available for use at Spotswood Quarantine Station there was no history of it ever being used. Some HICC members advised that although a crush may not be used all the time it would be advantageous to have one at each of the quarantine stations.
- Horse importers agreed to seek the views of their clients regarding their preferences and requirements for horse crushes and safety equipment for personnel at the Government quarantine stations and to provide this advice to AQIS.
International Racehorse Transport (IRT) advised that they have grooms on duty 24 hours a day 7 days a week to look after horses during post-arrival quarantine. Horses would not be left unattended, especially valuable horses. Therefore, grooms accommodation is necessary. On the few occasions that IRT have used Spotswood quarantine station a caravan has been provided to allow a groom to be present on-site with the horses. Horse importers acknowledged that it would be beneficial if the grooms accommodation was located at the quarantine stations but not in the biosecure area.
Use of disinfectants
The Chair advised that the Expert Group had recommended the use of a quaternary ammonium compound, rather than Virkon®, to disinfect equipment or vehicles that may be contaminated with equine influenza. The Chair advised that although Virkon® was expensive and corrosive, it would be difficult for AQIS to switch to an alternative disinfectant in the near future until the efficacy of any alternatives on horse diseases including, but not restricted to equine influenza, is understood. It was suggested that advice be sought from the Animal Health Trust in the United Kingdom on alternative disinfectants.
The Chair outlined the Expert Group’s recommendation that AQIS maintain a security presence 24 hours a day 7 days a week at the quarantine station while horses are undertaking post-arrival quarantine. The Chair advised that AQIS was considering ways to reduce the use of security guards by implementing a shift roster.
The initial proposal is that AQIS staff will be present at quarantine stations from 6:00am – 10:00pm seven days a week. A curfew will be put in place from 10:00pm- 6:00am to restrict movements to and from the quarantine station, except in the case of an emergency. Horse importers asked AQIS to provide further details of the proposal so that they can discuss it with their grooms before the proposal is implemented.
- AQIS to provide horse importers with the draft policy concerning AQIS presence at the quarantine stations and access for non-AQIS personnel.
5. Biosecurity Australia Pre-Export Quarantine Review Report
The Chair advised that Biosecurity Australia’s pre-export quarantine review report recommends a number of changes to import conditions including seals on transport vehicles, contingency plans to deal with particular scenarios such as a truck breaking down, and alternative showering arrangements. The Chair mentioned that many of Biosecurity Australia’s recommendations will be incorporated into the generic pre-export quarantine plan that AQIS is developing for horse importers. AQIS would continue to review the report and make changes to the generic plan and import conditions as required. HICC members were asked to raise with AQIS any issues with Biosecurity Australia’s recommendations.
Biosecurity Australia identified registration of updated vaccines for equine influenza as an on-going issue for AQIS and horse importers with regard to vaccination of Australian horses competing overseas and returning. The Chair mentioned that this was an industry issue and only affected returning horses that cannot be vaccinated while overseas.
6. Microchipping Horses Imported into Australia
The Chair advised HICC members that the issue of microchipping horses imported into Australia had been raised by the Australian Horse Industry Council and AQIS regional vets. HICC members noted that microchipping horses had become, or would soon be, mandatory for all horses in the United Kingdom and European Union.
The Chair advised that the requirement to microchip horse from a quarantine perspective was to assist with the identification of the horse. Horse Importers suggested that further work needed to be undertaken to assess the costs and benefits of such a policy. Equestrian Australia advised that all horses registered within their organisation in Australia will be microchipped by 2011. HICC members agreed to discuss the issue further when representatives of the Australian Horse Industry Council are present.
- Horse Importers to provide advice to AQIS on potential industry issues with microchipping imported horses, particularly breed society requirements.
7. Horse Quarantine Surveillance
The Chair introduced the agenda item and mentioned that AQIS has developed draft conditions and associated work instructions for the quarantine surveillance of imported pregnant mares. The revised conditions and work instructions will better address the biosecurity risks associated with CEM. HICC members discussed how best to implement the revised conditions and agreed that “Option B” in the agenda paper was the best approach. This requires importers to not release the mare to anyone except the owner of the mare; and the mare must not be released to the owner until the owner has entered into an agreement with AQIS regarding the quarantine surveillance conditions.
The Chair advised that AQIS would seek industry comments on the draft quarantine surveillance conditions and work instructions at the same time other work instructions are updated to give effect to the Expert Group’s and Biosecurity Australia’s post-arrival and pre-export quarantine review reports.
- AQIS to provide changes to instructional material to HICC members for comment.
8. Horse Arrivals at Ports other than Sydney and Melbourne
The Chair discussed the draft policy principles developed by AQIS for managing the importation of non-New Zealand horses that arrive at ports other than Sydney or Melbourne airport. The draft policy takes into account the issues raised at the last HICC meeting. The Chair asked HICC members to provide comments on the draft contingency policy to AQIS.
- HICC members to provide any comments on the draft ‘Policy principles for the arrival of non-New Zealand horses at ports other than Melbourne and Sydney’ by 15 May 2009 so that it can be finalised.
9. Biosecurity Australia Update
Biosecurity Australia advised HICC members that the import risk analysis (IRA) for horses imported into Australia was progressing well and that the next meeting of the IRA Expert Panel would take place in May. Biosecurity Australia is planning to make some changes to the interim quarantine measures regarding seals on trucks transporting horses during pre-export quarantine however it was not expected that there will be other major changes until the import risk analysis is completed.
Horse importers enquired about the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) updating their health certificates to meet Australia’s import requirements. Biosecurity Australia confirmed that they had provided advice to DEFRA on the requirements.
- AQIS will follow-up with DEFRA regarding their health certificates.
Horse Importers also queried the IFAT test in relation to piroplasmosis. Importers were concerned that horses are not permitted entry if they have one positive result even if having several negative results on this or other tests have also been recorded, especially in instances when the result is suspected to be a false positive. Biosecurity Australia advised that they are still considering information on the testing as part of the IRA.
Thoroughbred Breeders Australia and Racing Victoria Limited sought clarification on whether horses from Japan would be permitted importation for the Spring Carnival. Biosecurity Australia confirmed that they were still waiting for information from Japanese authorities and that once the information was available they would have to follow due process including a mandatory consultation period. The lack of information from Japan to date, the assessment and consultation process effectively rules out the likelihood of horses being imported for this Spring Carnival.
Racing Victoria Limited expressed disappointment that the issue of horse imports from Japan, particularly competitors for the Spring Carnival, had not been resolved especially since it has been almost two years since the equine influenza outbreak in Australia.
10. Update on Implementing the Government’s response to the Equine Influenza Inquiry
The Chair provided HICC members with a brief update on progress with implementation of the Government’s response to the Equine Influenza Inquiry.
- AQIS will circulate to HICC members Professor Shergold’s second report to the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry on progress with implementing the Government’s response (should the report be released publicly).
11. Update on Implementing the Government’s response to the Review of Australia’s Quarantine and Biosecurity Arrangements
The Chair introduced this item and advised that a number of people across the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry were involved with considering implementing the 84 recommendations from the Beale Review. HICC members were invited to raise any comments or queries with AQIS.
It was agreed that the next HICC meeting would be on 21 October 2009 in Melbourne at 10:00am at the AQIS Regional Office in Tullamarine.