Media statement: Importation of horses from Hong Kong

10 January 2018

(Issued by Department of Agriculture)

The direct importation of horses from Hong Kong to Australia was suspended on 2 October 2017 because of potential biosecurity risks that could be created by the movement of hor​ses between Hong Kong and a training facility in China.

Australia takes biosecurity seriously and there is evidence of equine diseases in China that would devastate Australia’s horse industries if they arrived here.

The department’s priority is to keep exotic horse diseases out of Australia. The 2007 equine influenza outbreak was devastating for Australia’s equine industry, costing Australia $455 million.

The onus is on Hong Kong and Chinese government authorities to provide the information necessary to show that these potential disease risks are being managed to the very low level required to import horses into Australia.

The department has worked consistently with its Hong Kong and Chinese counterparts to resolve the matter as quickly as possible. 

Information provided by the Hong Kong government so far has not demonstrated that these potential biosecurity risks were being managed to meet Australia’s standards.

The department has sent questionnaires to official agencies in Hong Kong and China to support its assessment of the equine disease status and biosecurity controls in place to manage potential biosecurity risks to Australia.

The department will continue working with officials from Hong Kong and China and consult the Australian thoroughbred industry to resolve the matter.

The suspension will not be lifted until the department is confident that exotic disease risks to Australian horses have been minimised.