February 23, 2008

New South Wales authorities are promising more random spot checks from this weekend to ensure horse owners are complying with movement requirements.

Department of Primary Industries regulatory officers will step up checks on horse transporters at race meetings and at other horse events from this weekend.

Although testing indicates NSW is now flu free, movement requirements remain unchanged.

Anyone in the white or purple zones of NSW wishing to move horses within their zone must complete a Travelling Horse Statement before the journey and carry it with them for the trip.

Proof of immunity is also required for movements within the purple zone, and permits are required for movements between zones and interstate.

NSW Police are continuing to monitor horse movements.

No easing of any of these movement requirements is likely before mid-March when the purple zone is expected to go green.

Severe penalties may apply for any horse movements made without the required documentation or contrary to movement restrictions. In Queensland, two people who pleaded guilty in the Caboolture Magistrate's Court to charges relating to the movement of horses out of the state's red zone were each fined $A3000.

Horses were being moved from Caboolture at night and when stopped by police at Gympie the owners were unable to produce a movement permit, the court was told.

Queensland, like New South Wales, has no known cases. Twenty-two properties remain officially classified as suspect in the red zone, but all testing for flu has proved negative to date.

State officials say the aim now is to get the state declared free of flu as soon as possible.

Under nationally agreed procedures, for the current red zone to change to green, samples are to be collected from 900 randomly selected properties in the red zone and test as clear.

"As all samples have now been collected from the amber zone, the main effort is now on collecting these samples from the red zone," said EI project leader Rick Webster.