|Meeting Minutes 6 PDF||9||120 KB|
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Wednesday 27 October 2010
10:00am – 1:00pm
AQIS Office, 1 Crewe Place, Roseberry, Sydney
|Lee Cale||AQIS - Chair|
|Wayne Burcher||AQIS - NSW|
|Leanne Tame||AQIS - NSW|
|Ian Sinclair||AQIS - NSW|
|Phillip Widders||AQIS - NSW|
|Helen Walker||AQIS – Horse Imports|
|Murli Baker-Gabb||AQIS – Horse Imports|
|Emma Haslam||AQIS – Horse Imports|
|Lachlan Wilkins||AQIS – Animal Quarantine|
|Peter Finnin||AQIS - Victoria|
|Tony Britton||AQIS – Quarantine Operations|
|Peter Moore||AQIS – Quarantine Operations|
|Bob Biddle||BSG –Animal Health Programs|
|Geoff Chubb||BSG – Animal Biosecurity|
|Andrew Kelly||Harness Racing Australia|
|Greg Northcott||New Zealand Bloodstock|
|Josh Murphy||New Zealand Bloodstock|
|Franz Venhaus||Equestrian Australia|
|Grant Baldock||Equestrian Australia|
|Roger Lavelle||Australian Horse Industry Council|
|Crispin Bennett||Crispin Bennett International Horse Transport|
|Peter McGauran||Thoroughbred Breeders Australia|
|Ross Kendall||Racing Victoria Limited|
|Chris Burke||International Racehorse Transport|
|Kevin Doyle||Australian Veterinary Association|
|Quentin Wallace||International Racehorse Transport|
|Patricia Ellis||Australian Horse Industry Council|
|Robyn Martin||BSG - Animal Biosecurity|
|Nicola Hinder||BSG –Strategic Projects|
|John Peatfield||Thoroughbred Breeders Australia|
1. Welcome, introduction & apologies
The Chair welcomed members to the sixth meeting of the HICC and informed members that she will permanently replace Dr Ann McDonald as Chair. Dr McDonald has permanently moved within AQIS to manage the Export Certification Reform Project. The Chair noted that there were several new faces in the room and asked participants to introduce themselves.
The Chaired noted apologies from Quentin Wallace, Patricia Ellis, Robyn Martin and John Peatfield.
2. Minutes and Action Items from Last Meeting
The Chair called for any further comments on the minutes from the fifth HICC meeting. Members accepted the minutes. The Chair and officers from the Horse Imports Program (HIP) outlined progress made against action items arising from the fifth HICC meeting.
Action Item A. Completed
The Chair noted that, following representation by the HIP, and Professor Shergold’s comments in his final report to the Minister, the Australian Government and the Department are conscious of industry’s concerns about the potential impact of higher quarantine fees on the volume of horse imports. The Chair clarified that this issue was one of many being considered by senior executives as part of the broader review of the Department’s funding arrangements; and that the HIP had not received any further feedback on the issue to date.
Action Item B. Completed
Dr Baker-Gabb outlined that the Department’s legal advice on the matter indicated that it should enter into contracts with Australian entities to ensure it can recoup costs. This approach has been successfully implemented for several PEQ facility assessments this year. Members expressed a preference for the Department to enter into contracts with the owners of offshore pre‑export quarantine (PEQ) facilities, and reasoned that the Department’s liability was limited when dealing with reputable facilities. HIP officers highlighted that the Department is concerned that the facilities may not cooperate if the inspection results are not favourable. Members requested the Department consider contracting directly with PEQ facility owners, based on a deposit being made before the inspection is conducted. The Chair agreed to consider the proposal and liaise with members out of session.
Action Item C.
Action Item D.
Completed (at meeting 6).
Action Item E. Ongoing
Members reaffirmed their agreement on the need for a horse crush at Eastern Creek Quarantine Station (ECQS). Dr Baker-Gabb clarified that before a crush can be purchased and installed. AQIS requires agreement from industry on an effective and appropriate crush design - and endorsement of the design from a suitably qualified person. The Chair undertook to further investigate options and costs and put to members out of session for their consideration.
Surgical equipment at ECQS (Attachment A)
Dr Baker-Gabb reiterated members previous decision that AQIS should supply the necessary surgical and veterinary equipment and socialise the costs across all importers; and sought members advice on the level of surgical facilities they required for ECQS. Dr Baker-Gabb clarified that the issue originally arose out of recommendations made by the expert group, in response to industry concerns at the lack of surgical facilities at ECQS. The expert panel recommended that industry decide on the facilities that they require to manage risk, particularly with high value animals. Members discussed a range of hire scenarios and issues that need to be addressed. Members agreed with the Chair’s proposal to (firstly) model the impact on daily fees of purchasing equipment listed in Attachment A. to inform further discussion.
Further actions required:
- Department seek advice on legality (and consider the practicality) of contracting directly with the overseas PEQ facility owners for future PEQ facility inspections, based on a deposit being made before the inspection is conducted.
- Department further investigate options and costs for a Horse Crush at ECQS.
- Department to model impact on daily fees of purchasing surgical equipment for ECQS (listed in Attachment A).
3. AQIS Horse Imports Program Finance
The Chair provided an overview of the HIP finances, outlining that the September year-to-date figures indicated a surplus of $226,000, compared to a budgeted figure of $58,000. This is due to an increase in the number of horses imported this financial year against the anticipated numbers. This has reduced the accumulated budget deficit to $1.599 million, from its 1 July 2010 position of $1.825 million. The Chair explained that travel expenses are up as a result of overseas travel costs for PEQ facility inspection. This is 100 per cent cost recovered and will bring the actual travel costs back to $6,000 (from $16,000). The HIP has requested the Department’s property manager (UGL) to explain the property operating costs overspend and review whether budget forecasts for these expense types are adequate.
Further action required:
- The Department to update members regarding UGL’s explanation of the property operating costs overspend; and the outcome of UGL’s review of whether budget forecasts for these expense types are adequate.
4 & 5. Quarantine stations – lease negotiations update
Peter Moore updated members on the status of ECQS and Spotswood quarantine station (SQS) lease negotiations. The Department has opted (under the existing lease provisions) to extend its tenure at ECQS and is seeking a new lease for the SQS. Lease negotiations with the property owners are currently underway and new arrangements will take effect from 1 January 2011 for the ECQS extension and 1 December 2010 for SQS under a new lease. The SQS lease ends in November 2010 and the Department is negotiating for a four year lease.
Exercising the option on the ECQS lease has triggered a market rent review, which applies for the term of the lease extension. The Department is utilising the expertise of its in-house property provider and that of the Department of Finance. If negotiations with the property owner on the revised rental fail to result in a satisfactory outcome, an independent valuer will be appointed by the Australian Property Institute to make a decision that is binding on both parties. Irrespective of when final agreement is reached, any rent increase will be effective from 1 January 2011 – and the HIP will be required to contribute to the costs. Mr Moore informed members that while the negotiations may be protracted, the Department does not intend to walk away from ECQS.
Members asked if (in the event) the ECQS lease wasn’t finalised by 1 January 2011, would HIP be charged fees retrospectively. The Chair clarified that a fee review would be necessary before any daily fee increases could come into effect and that this could not happen until the rental agreement had been finalised. Therefore, the HIP would go into deficit - which would be factored into the next fee review.
Members asked if it was possible to increase the daily fees voluntarily from 1 January 2011 in order to ‘soften the landing’ in the future; and added that not doing so would unfairly disadvantage people who import in the future, that are not currently importing. The Chair noted members’ concern and reiterated that a fee review is necessary before any daily fee increases could come into effect and that this cannot happen until the final rental agreements had been finalised.
In relation to the future of the SQS facility, members discussed various scenarios relating to the practicality and economics of using SQS as a sole intake point. Members agreed to the Chair’s proposal to defer discussion and further decision on the future of SQS until further information was at hand on lease costs.
6. Future post-entry quarantine arrangements (FPEQA) – project update
Mr Moore updated members on the FPEQA project. The Department has engaged Consultants to assist in the development of a business case to go to Government in 2011. The consultant’s presentations are available onAQIS’s website.
Stakeholder feedback has been incorporated into design modifications and members were provided copies of upgraded plans at the meeting. Consultation sessions have been well attended and members expressed satisfaction at the hearing they were given.
The Department is currently considering costing and needs to present a P80 costing (80 per cent accurate) as part of the business case to Government. If the proposal is accepted, there will be further assessment stages and many variables will contribute to costing, including the site. Mr Moore informed members that the Government is looking at all real estate options (defence, state and Commonwealth government, commercial). It is likely to be mid to late 2015 before the new station/s are fully operational. Construction, project management, planning and approval work will be tendered.
Mr Moore informed members that significant decisions are likely to be made early in the new year in relation to future quarantine arrangements (that will influence daily fees in the future) and he encouraged members to inform the Department of the potential impact that increased fees will have on the industry. Industry members discussed the need to collect data and build a case to demonstrate the value of the industry to the community and the broader economy. Members agreed it was important to participate in the stakeholder consultations because the new facilities will be operational for several decades to come.
7 & 8. Quarantine surveillance & future of temporary import conditions
Dr Baker-Gabb sought members views on the proposed changes to the way quarantine surveillance premises are approved and managed; and sought members views on the possibility of streamlining import conditions.
There are two proposals to consider. The first proposal is a change to quarantine surveillance and primarily relates to pregnant mares, for which Quarantine Approved Premises (QAP) is an attractive scenario. Unlike quarantine surveillance, QAPs are well defined in our legislation, there are existing regulatory and administrative frameworks, and AQIS is equipped to manage this type of arrangement. These changes would not affect arrangements for racehorses.
The first step in this process is for AQIS to develop QAP criteria for pregnant mares after release from the quarantine station. Facilities would need to be approved (and pay associated fees) and would be subject to audit arrangements. AQIS would require longer lead times to register QAPs than it currently does to approve quarantine surveillance premises. This would be in the order of a minimum of 6-8 weeks. This approach would give AQIS more confidence in the effectiveness of measures for managing biosecurity risk.
The second proposal relates to imports of racehorses under temporary conditions, and whether it would be more practical to import racehorses under permanent conditions (unless they are piroplasmosis positive). New import conditions are currently being negotiated. This presents an opportunity to review the efficiency of the current arrangements. PEQ and PAQ periods are now the same for temporary and permanent import conditions, but there are differences in testing protocols. Permanent import conditions have additional sampling requirements for EVA and CEM.
Temporary import conditions require less testing in pre-export quarantine, but the horses are more restricted and subject to higher management levels whilst in Australia. It may be more attractive to conduct the additional pre-export testing in order to have fewer restrictions whilst in Australia.
There are several problems with the current arrangements:
- Current conditions result in race horses being subject to a large amount of management and the horses can only be housed at the QAP or quarantine station. This is costly for industry and administratively burdensome for AQIS.
- Constantly managing two sets of conditions also presents problems when importers want to change a temporary permit to a permanent one after arrival of the horse in Australia.
In relation to race horses and piroplasmosis, current arrangements will remain to manage the risk of disease spread. If temporary import conditions are removed, there will be some extra testing required, but this will be offset by the benefits of being able to release horses into the general horse population.
Members agreed that the proposed changes could be advantageous and there were no significant problems or concerns immediately apparent. Members discussed potential impacts of the changes and Mr Chris Burke advised that he would consult with his overseas counterparts and report back to AQIS out of session. Members agreed to advise AQIS if they became aware of any impediments that could prevent all racehorse imports (other than piroplasmosis positive horses) being under permanent import conditions.
Members noted that the new import conditions required 14 days of pre-export quarantine and this could lead to some difficulties with the coordination of CEM swabs. In order to have all CEM testing completed before export, the first swab would need to be taken before entry into PEQ; this could be logistically challenging. Accordingly, members requested the Department’s advice in relation to whether or not the result of the third CEM swab could be received after the horse arrived in Australia.
Further actions required:
- Industry members to advise AQIS out of session of whether they or their overseas contacts have identified any foreseeable problems with the plan to have all racehorse imports (other than piroplasmosis positive horses) conducted under permanent import conditions.
- The Department to advise members whether the result of the third CEM swab can be received after a horse arrives in Australia.
9. Update on implementation of new import conditions
Geoff Chubb updated members on progress of implementation of new import conditions. Letters have been sent to trading partners and negotiations have begun on draft veterinary certificates with Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, USA and NZ. The UK advised that they would provide a certificate, but have not responded yet. The Department will write to the UK, Ireland, Germany, Singapore and the UAE in the near future in order to finalise arrangements as soon as possible. Dr Chubb clarified that horses will be able to be imported under new and old protocols, though they would be required to serve the quarantine period relevant to the conditions they were imported under.
Further actions required:
Department to provide members with the contact details of Japanese authorities responsible for negotiating veterinary certificates.
10 & 11. EI vaccination, EADRA arrangements
Dr Bob Biddle outlined details of the EI vaccination levy mechanism. Under the current proposal, a levy would apply to worming product and manufactured horse feed. Dr Biddle clarified that manufactured feed was likely to include more than pelletised feed, though specific conditions were not yet clear.
The Hon. Peter McGauran informed members that the Thoroughbred Breeders Association and Racing Australia are reserving their position on the levy on manufactured feeds until AHA can advise them what proportion of manufactured feed they consume. Members agreed that no sector should pay a disproportionate portion of the levy.
Members discussed possible options if a levy was not adopted, including voluntary vaccination. Dr Biddle expressed the view that it was difficult to determine what might happen in this scenario and he could only speculate at this stage; but that it would be heavily influenced by the nature of the decision made at the time regarding the outbreak, i.e. to eradicate or not. Next discussion on the matter will be at the PISC meeting in March 2011.
Members discussed that EADRA was broader than EI and covers other serious exotic diseases that could have significant (deleterious) animal health and economic impacts if they entered Australia. Roger Lavelle thanked the Department and Nicola Hinder’s area for assistance and advice provided to AHIC during its deliberations on the EADRA levy.
Members agreed that most industry groups are now onboard with the EADRA levy and understand the benefits; and are therefore working hard to implement the EADRA levy. Members highlighted the importance of ensuring that people are aware that the levy will only come into place in the event of a disease outbreak.
12. Other Business
PEQ Facility inspection
The Chair requested that industry identify the PEQ facilities that will require approval for next year so that work can begin now. The Chair highlighted that it takes at least 4 weeks to finalise a PEQ facility assessment. Due to the lateness of the requests received this year, the Department struggled to complete assessments. Other commodities/industries that program staff are responsible for have suffered as a result.
Now that the peak demand period is past (shuttle stallions and race horses), the Department would like to progress the assessments in the next few months prior to build up to next year’s Spring Carnival. The Department will contact industry in the near future regarding PEQs that are up for renewal, or that are on interim approval. The Chair emphasised that without better planning, there is a risk that the assessments will not be completed if, for example, there is a major disease outbreak or incident in another commodity such as poultry (which requires the same staff resources as PEQ assessments).
Industry members noted the Chair’s request. Several members expressed concerns that the PEQ Facility Standard Operating Procedures Manual is too long – and, by its size, people tend to feel they need to develop an equal sized manual to satisfy requirements. HIP officers clarified that a manual does not need to be long – rather, it needs to demonstrate that the import conditions are met. HIP officers noted that the manual will be revised when new import conditions are implemented. HIP officers also pointed out that the UAE does not currently have an approved PEQ facility.
Issue - transport of horses via long haul sea voyage
The Chair informed members that the Department had received a request to transport horses via long haul sea voyage. The Department referred the issue to the Animal Welfare Committee and sought advice from Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer. The Department’s position is that the long haul transport of horses via sea is high risk from an animal welfare perspective.
The Chair sought industry members’ views on the issue, in particular, if members were inclined to invest in developing standards in conjunction with the Department to facilitate the trade. Industry members advised the Chair that they did not think it would be a sound investment in resources and that they were happy with air transport arrangements. They questioned the need and merits of the practice; and noted that it was unlikely that ship owners would be willing to meet the conditions.
The next meeting will be held in Melbourne, likely around Easter. The Department will propose dates out of session for member’s consideration.