|Meeting Minutes 8 PDF||7||76 KB|
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Wednesday 5 October 2011
10.30 am – 1.30 pm
255 Melrose Drive, Tullamarine Vic
|Jackie South||DAFF – Chair|
|Helen Walker||DAFF – Live Animal Imports|
|Murli Baker-Gabb||DAFF – Live Animal Imports|
|Peter Moore||DAFF – Quarantine Operations|
|Geoff Chubb||DAFF – Animal Biosecurity|
|Peter Finnin||DAFF – South East|
|Noriel Williams||DAFF – South East|
|Magda Hribar||DAFF – Central East|
|Phillip Widders||DAFF – Central East|
|Ian Sinclair||DAFF – Central East|
|Andrew Kelly||Harness Racing Australia|
|Chris Burke||International Racehorse Transport|
|Sue BennettCrispin||Bennett International Horse Transport Pty Ltd|
|Josh Murphy||New Zealand Bloodstock|
|Greg Northcott||New Zealand Bloodstock|
|Ross Kendell||Racing Victoria Limited|
|Leigh Jordan||Jordan International|
|Roger Lavelle||Australian Horse Industry Council|
|John Peatfield||Thoroughbred Breeders Association|
|Brian Stewart||Observer – Racing Victoria Limited|
|John McCaffrey||Observer – Consultant Veterinarian|
|Brant Dunshea||Observer – Harness Racing Victoria|
|Kevin Doyle||Australian Veterinary Association|
|Peter McGauran||Thoroughbred Breeders Association|
|Quentin Wallace||International Racehorse Transport|
|Crispin Bennett||Crispin Bennett International Horse Transport Pty Ltd|
|Patricia Ellis||Australian Horse Industry Council|
|Grant Baldock||Equestrian Australia|
|Andrew Harding||Australian Racing Board Limited|
|Jill Millan||Animal Biosecurity|
1. Welcome and Apologies
The Chair welcomed members to the eighth meeting of the Horse Industry Consultative Committee (HICC). The Chair noted apologies.
2. Meeting 7 Minutes and Actions Arising
The Chair called for any further comments on the minutes from the seventh HICC meeting. There were no comments and the minutes were accepted.
Murli Baker-Gabb updated the meeting on the actions arising from previous meetings:
- Who AQIS are charging and how we do it – completed
- Template health certificate from Germany – completed
- Review of IRA – Scheduled for March 2012
- AQIS to provide transit/transhipment policy for comment – completed, policy yet to be finalised.
- Horse crush ECQS – completed (two crushes in place)
- Provide comments on using cattle yards at ECQS for horses – completed (This won’t happen in the near future)
- AQIS to provide number of horse imports including breed breakdown (completed 9 May)
3. AQIS Horse Imports Program Finances
- The Chair provided an overview of the Horse Import Program finances. For the 2010/2011 financial year, the HIP reported actual total revenue of $2,670,000, against budgeted revenue of $2,200,000 (+21%); actual total expenditure of $2,591,000 against budgeted expenditure of $2,382,000 (+9%); net operating surplus of $80,000 against a budgeted operating deficit of $181,000.
- As at 1 July 2011, the HIP reported an accumulated budget deficit of $1,786,000, down from $1,865,000.
The fee review was discussed. It was noted that as discussed at the previous HICC meeting to complete a fee review process takes approximately six months. The impact of any fee increase was discussed.
4. Update on Quarantine Stations Lease Arrangements
Peter Moore provided an update on the quarantine station lease arrangements. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) was unable to reach agreement with the ECQS landlord on rent. Under the terms of the lease, an independent valuer was appointed in August 2011. Written submissions were made by both parties to the valuer about three weeks ago. Advisers from each party met with the valuer last week. A result was expected by 9 October 2011 as the terms of the lease allow 42 days to reach a final position. However, due to other commitments, the valuer has asked for an extension until 9 November 2011. DAFF has agreed to the extension.
New Action item: A HICC finance subcommittee meeting will be held before the end of October to discuss the model that will be used to determine new quarantine fees once the rent review outcomes are known.
Implementation of the new fees is still on schedule for late April 2012.
Industry members expressed disappointment with the length of time the process takes to complete fee reviews. Members indicated that it seemed incongruous that the government attempt to operate as a business in terms of cost-recovery, but then not be able to operate as a business in terms of the speed with which fee changes could be introduced. Members also expressed their frustration that this apparent inability to rapidly and pre-emptively lift the existing fees means likely higher expenses in the future cannot be offset now. This will result in an increase in the program’s budget deficit and mean that current quarantine station users effectively receive a discount, while future users pay for the privilege they (prior users) received. Jackie South noted the comments, but reiterated the need to follow stipulated government processes when changing fees.
5. Future Post-Arrival Quarantine Arrangements
Peter Moore updated members on progress with the future post-arrival quarantine arrangements. The new facility is to be located in Victoria. Funds have been provided to the Department of Finance and Deregulation (DOFD) in the 2011 budget to purchase land. DAFF has been provided funds to continue with the next stages of the facility design. A business case will be developed by DAFF and DOFD for consideration by government in the 2012 budget cycle.
Several sites (approx 30) have been reviewed for suitability. Three to five facilities remain on the shortlist. DOFD is carrying out due diligence on these sites (environmental impacts, neighbouring land use, etc). The final site is expected to be selected about six months from now (around April 2012).
In the 2011 federal budget, funding was provided to upgrade the current post-arrival quarantine facilities (across all species) to ensure that these facilities remain operationally efficient and capable while still in use.
The option to contain all government quarantine activities on one site was chosen as:
- There is a smaller delivery risk managing one site rather than several sites.
- There is a lower fiscal risk.
- The consolidation of expertise will provide benefits to DAFF and to clients.
- There is some efficiency in administration and overheads.
Victoria was chosen as:
- There is greater availability of land.
- There is more land available at less cost.
- There is less urban encroachment than in some other jurisdictions.
- Its climatic conditions are more favourable for the management of the majority of imported plant species.
- Victoria is less subject to many pests and diseases of concern.
The new facility is expected to be up and running no later than the end of 2015. Construction won’t be able to commence for at least 18 months due to governmental processes. Processes are mainly sequential, so not much can happen in parallel.
This will leave about another 18 months to initiate and complete construction.
Roger Lavelle asked if there was a fall-back position if the building is not erected before ECQS closes at the end of 2015. The only alternative would be use of the remaining quarantine stations (eg Spotswood).
Peter Moore advised that no serious consideration was given to buying back the current quarantine stations. There are problems with each of the stations that make this not a viable option.
- Spotswood is being crowded out by other local residents.
- ECQS landlord already has approval to develop the site for alternate uses and is intending to do so as soon as DAFF has left the site. The value of this site has gone up immensely since it was sold by the government.
Many of the old sites are not suited to the new process flows. The new site will be more efficient and cheaper to set up so as to allow continued function for the next 30 years.
Costs to industry are yet to be established, but are expected to be more than current costs. The DOFD will own the facility and DAFF will pay them rent. The government will expect some rate of return, but it is yet to be determined whether this should be a commercial rate of return or whether quarantine should have special consideration.
Greg Northcott commented that Australian quarantine is already very expensive. A further increase in fees could reduce the number of horses imported and this could then create a vicious cycle with quarantine fees continually rising in an effort to recover government costs from import numbers that are continually falling.
Roger Lavelle commented that it was important to maintain the high quarantine standard and that he did not believe reducing some tests for a small reduction in cost was justifiable.
Chris Burke commented that the current system discourages participation in international competition for all horses including the equestrian disciplines.
John Peatfield advised that he believes the single site quarantine facility concept is flawed. If there is a disease outbreak, this would not allow an alternative option for continued imports of horses through the outbreak. However, Geoff Chubb and Jackie South pointed out that the intended design of the new facility has segregation measures between the different horse compounds such that each can operate as a separate biosecurity entity and potentially allow imports to continue even if one compound were to be locked-down. The reality of this scenario eventuating would depend on political factors and whether air-born disease spread was an issue. Helen Walker also indicated that biosecurity remains the government priority, and the single site proposal provides some biosecurity advantages (fewer areas where things can go wrong), as well as the smaller delivery risks that Peter Moore indicated earlier.
6. Review of the Import Risk Analysis (IRA) for live horses
Dr Geoff Chubb gave an update on the IRA review. The Equine Influenza Inquiry report recommended (recommendation 35) that the IRA for horses be reviewed every 2 years, and the first 2 year period will elapse in March 2012. Dr Chubb invited members to contribute specific items in the IRA for review before 21 October 2011. Animal Biosecurity intends to release an advice document which would include those suggested items, seeking stakeholders’ detailed submissions. There will be a 60 day period for this public comment after which the review would commence. .
7. Hendra virus – update on export trade issues
Dr Chubb provided an update on Hendra virus horse export trade issues. Singapore, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia and Norfolk Island had raised with DAFF issues around Hendra virus. Malaysia and Indonesia had suspended the importation of horses from Australia. Malaysia agreed last week to allow horses to be imported with premises freedom, isolation and Hendra testing using the serum neutralisation test (SNT) in Australia 14 days before export. Malaysia has since indicated all animals will be tested in post-arrival quarantine using an ELISA for the next few months. Malaysia would notify Australia of any positive result and will retest using SNT.
The UAE also unofficially asked IRT to test horses from NSW and Qld for Hendra virus prior to export. Two exporters noted they had consignments in preparation for Malaysia.
Currently the Ausvetplan mandates that if an animal’s test results are seropositive, the animal must be destroyed. This would make it preferable to have a vaccine that would allow differentiation from a natural infection, such as a DIVA vaccine. There may also be trade issues associated with the export of seropositive animals that will need to be worked through.
8. Deed for inspection of overseas facilities
Dr Baker-Gabb discussed the new Deed for inspection of overseas facilities. The current system has AQIS only charging Australian entities as this provided more legal control. The new Deed allows AQIS to charge overseas entities directly.
During the consultation process, some industry members indicated they would prefer to maintain the current arrangements. AQIS can run both systems in parallel so Australian entities can still be charged where preferred.
There was also some comment about the degree of protection from legal claims inherent in both versions of the Deed. Chris Burke raised the possibility that some of the protections written into the deeds may not be defensible if challenged in court (as no liability waiver can protect against findings of negligence). However, Jackie South pointed out that there were already similar protections for Quarantine Officers in the Quarantine Act and any question of the validity of the clauses would need to be tested in court, if it were to come to that. Members accepted that there was no significant difference in the level of protection offered between the old and new deeds.
9. HICC membership and terms of reference
The Chair noted that HICC was instigated in 2008 and has a 3 year review cycle included in the Terms of Reference (TORs). Membership has an expiry date and is now scheduled for review. Within the broader Department reviews of other industry consultative committees have been undertaken. The new terms of reference have been revised to align with the other departmental consultative committees.
Amendments suggested by members include:
- Add in section 6.1, first dot point the need for a minimum of two meetings per year.
- Add section in 6.1, third dot point, to allow other stakeholders (airport operators, etc) to attend HICC meetings if required (they don’t quite fit current categories).
- Dr Baker-Gabb invited comment on the membership table and in particular consideration of other industry groups that might balance the existing HICC membership.
An idea was put forward that the number of face-to-face meetings be reduced in favour of more teleconferences. However, after some discussion, members agreed that face-to-face meetings were generally more useful than teleconferences and that communication was more efficient and effective face-to-face. Overall, HICC members expressed a general preference to continue with face-to-face meetings twice a year.
The Chair invited members to provide comment on the TORs and membership.
New Action item: HICC members to provide comments on the draft TORs and committee membership to Murli.firstname.lastname@example.org in the next 3 weeks (by 26 October).
10. Other Business
ECQS horse intake windows for 2012
Mr Sinclair discussed the proposed horse intake windows for 2012. Industry feedback was that the schedule worked well up until the stallion intake, where there may be some issues. This might require adjustment of dates (to be confirmed closer to date of travel), which will then impact on the future intakes.
Temporary conditions for horses from Japan
Dr Chubb advised that the import conditions for Japan are currently only temporary. No permanent conditions currently exist. Japan is the only country that has temporary conditions remaining.
DAFF is currently negotiating the permanent import conditions with Japan. Japan has indicated that they don’t understand why we want to drop the temporary conditions. It was agreed to leave the temporary conditions in place until the permanent conditions have been negotiated. The temporary conditions can be revisited at a later date.
There is an issue with testing for CEM in Japan, particularly relating to sedating the stallion while he is still racing to help him drop.
There was some discussion regarding whether maintaining permanent import conditions only created issues for re-export of these horses. While this is potentially an issue, the most important aspect relates to where the horses are held, rather than which conditions they were imported under. As long as the horses are maintained in quarantine conditions whilst in Australia, they are able to be re-exported.
Ross Kendall indicated that Racing Victoria would prefer to maintain all imported horses as permanent imports rather than temporary imports as this greatly simplifies the management of horses in post-arrival quarantine.
Canberra/Sydney in April/May. Jackie South will send an email to members to confirm the date and location.
|Action||For Action by…|
|Action item 3:|
|CEM testing of prepubertal fillies to be addressed in Animal Biosecurity’s review of the Import Risk Analysis due in March 2012.||Animal Biosecurity|
|Action item 3:|
|CEM testing of prepubertal fillies to be addressed in Animal Biosecurity’s review of the Import Risk Analysis due in March 2012.||Animal Biosecurity|
|Action item 1:|
|AQIS to finalise transhipment policy and conditions.||Jackie South|
|Action item 2:|
|HICC finance subcommittee to meet before the end of October to discuss the model that will be used to determine new quarantine fees once the rent review outcomes are known.||Jackie South|
Action item 3:
|HICC members to provide comment on the proposed TORs and committee membership in the next 3 weeks (by 26 October).||HICC members|