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Split On Federal Horse Flu Vaccination Plan

Friday, 23rd April 2010

The Federal Government "is facing resistance from Victoria to a plan to allow horse owners to vaccinate their animals against equine influenza, after the outbreak 3 years ago cost the industry more than $1 billion," reported The Australian Financial Review. Federal Agriculture Minister Tony Burke will today "urge his state & territory counterparts to endorse a plan to allow voluntary vaccinations, but Victoria has sided with vets who oppose the plan". The federal plan "has polarised the horse industry & will divide the states at the Primary Industries Ministerial Council in Darwin". The Australian Horse Industry Council & the Australian Veterinary Association oppose "any move to allow vaccinations, arguing that if some animals are vaccinated this could mask the spread of the disease in the event of an outbreak". But Thoroughbred Breeders Australia chief executive Peter McGauran (Agriculture Minister in the Howard Government) "has applauded Burke for proposing to allow vaccinations". The racing industry "is also supportive". Burke conceded that critics were correct "to say it could result in an outbreak spreading without being detected", but emphasised it was "the only option for providing the industry with some protection. If we can't get a levy & can't have an eradication program anyway, you have to let people protect their industry."

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