June 17, 2008

New Zealand's biosecurity department is giving no time-frame for changes to import requirements for horses from Australia as our trans-Tasman neighbour prepares to formally declare itself free of equine influenza.

The last case of equine influenza in Australia was notified on Christmas Day.

Random testing across the two affected states - New South Wales and Queensland - has failed to detect any further cases.

The country's National Management Group, which oversaw the $A100 million eradication effort, announced late last week its intention to declare the nation free of the disease on June 30.

New Zealand only recently resumed imports under strict requirements requiring five weeks of quarantine - three in Australia and two here.

The service is available only for air-freighted horses and the cost is more than $10,000.

A MAF spokesperson said no specifics were yet available.

"We are in the process of assessing the situation with regards to Australia's freedom of equine influenza," she told Horsetalk.

"Once the assessment has been made a new import health standard may be drafted. Any new import health standard will go through a period of public consultation.

"There is no set time frame for this as there are a number of variables.

"Given the significant economic, social and animal welfare impacts of equine influenza, any decisions to reduce quarantine measures require careful assessment."