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Qld Govt Declares Horse Flu Natural Disaster
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh yesterday declared the horse flu crisis a "natural disaster", put the state's Disaster Management Group in charge of handling the outbreak & announced an emergency relief package for people directly employed in the racing industry. With racing in Brisbane cancelled until February, the Queensland government relief package "includes a small business interest subsidy scheme for those who can't meet financial commitments because of the crisis". State cabinet will determine criteria for the scheme when it meets on Monday, but Bligh estimated it would provide around $8 million in aid. The Australian Bankers Association will also offer short-term relief "for those who can't meet mortgage & loan repayments". And Bligh noted the funds were not capped, as the package was designed "to assist people as the crisis unfolded".