January 17, 2008

A temporary measure while New South Wales puts the final squeeze on equine flu in the higher risk purple zone will put a stop to New Zealand horses arriving at Sydney Airport.

From February 4, only horses that are immune to equine flu infection will be able to move freely in the purple zone. This is in addition to the new Travelling Horse Statement and event registration requirements that became effective from January 14.

Sydney Airport falls within the purple zone and it means New Zealand horses crossing the Tasman are highly unlikely to be able to meet the requirements.

Horse owners in the purple zone will be required to carry two documents when moving horses:

As a genetically modified vaccine, the use of ProtecFlu vaccine is not permitted in New Zealand as approval has not been given, meaning no horse can be vaccinated here to meet the Australian requirement, and therefore it will not be possible for horses to be vaccinated with this in New Zealand.

New Zealand Bloodstock points out that the new Australian requirement will not mean that horses cannot fly to Australia.

"All horses from New Zealand may fly directly into Melbourne unvaccinated, for the same cost as flying into Sydney, and then transported into New South Wales to a property designated as green, amber or red [zones], where they can then be vaccinated.

Referring to the upcoming Karaka Sales, NZ Bloodstock said it would obtain the necessary documents for any buyers wanting to send horses into Melbourne and that no quarantine period is required.

It said the only additional cost to owners will be the float trip to the property of their choice and the vaccination shots.

"Alternatively, for buyers not looking to transport their horses to Australia immediately, horses can remain in New Zealand until such travel restrictions are lifted by the Department of Primary Industries, with many New Zealand vendors willing to assist purchasers in this regard," the firm said.

Horses can remain in New Zealand for up to 24 months without attracting GST, unless raced or on-sold in that period.

"We understand that these restrictions may well change for the better in time for the sales."

The current purple zone requirements are temporary - an interim measure leading up to the reclassification of the purple zone to green.