Speedy work helps horse racing industry

  • David Carter

Biosecurity Minister Hon David Carter welcomes urgent work by MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) that has resulted in a positive outcome for the horse racing industry. 

Mr Carter today announced a new import health standard (IHS) for the importation of horses from Australia that will be in place in time for the summer racing carnival.

The new standard removes existing import requirements for equine influenza, which included vaccination, testing, pre-export and post-arrival quarantine. Horses will be allowed to cross the Tasman under the same conditions that were in place prior to last year's equine influenza outbreak in Australia.

"This will be of significant benefit to the horse racing sector and is a great example of how Government can support industry rather than hold it back with bureaucracy," Mr Carter says. 

"I listened closely to industry feedback and was aware of the urgency of this matter with the summer racing season virtually upon us.

"All the submissions were supportive of the new IHS and I agreed the Ministry should act as quickly as possible.

"The outcome is a win for all, with industry needs met at the same time as ensuring our world-class biosecurity standards are maintained," says Mr Carter.

MAFBNZ will issue the IHS as provisional today with the final import health standard taking effect in the first week of January.

New Zealand is free of equine influenza and has never had an outbreak of the disease. MAFBNZ has worked closely with the Equine Health Association and equine industry to develop a comprehensive response plan and vaccination policy, to prepare for a possible response if equine influenza is ever found in New Zealand.

Background note: In August 2007 MAFBNZ halted all imports of horses from Australia and tightened border procedures around the importation of horse equipment following confirmation from the Australian Government that a number of horses in New South Wales and Queensland had symptoms of equine influenza. 

A new IHS was issued by MAFBNZ in March 2008 and horse imports resumed under strict requirements designed to protect New Zealand from the highly contagious equine influenza virus. Australia has since been declared free of equine influenza status.