February 20, 2008

Queensland's non-racing sector is getting state help to restructure after an acknowledgement it lacked the capacity and credibility to engage authorities over the equine influenza outbreak.

Organisations in the performance and pleasure horse industries are being invited to put forward their vision for an organisation or structure that would give the sector a more cohesive voice.

Consultants engaged by the state's Department of Primary Industries has already talked with sectors of the industry to prepare a discussion documents.

Authorities hope industry structures can be developed and strengthened in the wake of the equine flu outbreak.

An industry gathering in mid-February forged a broad consensus on a number of key points. The performance and pleasure horse industry:

In October, the Performance and Pleasure Horse Industry Crisis Committee (QPPHICC) was established to improve discussions between the non-racing sector and government.

Consultants, in their summary, said the committee showed how effective a strong team with an industry-supported charter can be.

The committee had successfully developed effective working relationships with industry and government. It advised on matters relating to the eradication programme and played a major role in planning to speed-up industry recovery through projects supported by the Queensland Government.

The Queensland government is supporting initiatives to get the industry a stronger voice, and is backing a planned mid-March conference, where bodies can present their vision for a future industry structure.

"All industry associations are encouraged to discuss the information and identify how they would like to see the industry position itself for the future and ensure ongoing and effective industry representation in a post EI environment," the department says.

Groups at the mid-February forum broadly agreed:

Industry sectors needed to ask themselves what lessons had been learned through the EI response, the purpose of a representative body, and what values needed to be in place.

The consensus to date indicates the body needs to be professional, business-focused organisation, trusted, effective at communicating and transparent in its operation. It needed a good governance model and credible leadership.

A number of possible models have already been put forward and three bodies have indicated their intention to present a governance model at the mid-March conference to move the performance and pleasure-horse industry forward. Options to be discussed include a new government advisory, a new peak body, and suggestions the racing minister should also take responsibility for the non-racing sector.