Senate committee backs compulsory horse registration in Aust

November 14, 2008

Compulsory registration of all horses in Australia is supported by the Senate committee which considered proposed legislation that would allow the levying of horse owners in the event of future disease outbreaks.

"The committee supports compulsory registration for all horses and believes that this, together with the establishment of a national register, would greatly enhance the ability of animal health agencies to respond in the case of an emergency," said Senator Glenn Sterle.

The senator was reporting the findings of the Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport, which had heard submissions on the Horse Disease Response Levy Bill and two associated bills.

The committee found it is premature to conclude horse ownership will become more onerous or expensive for recreational riders if the bills were passed into law. It recommended the passage of the bills without amendment.

Without the legislation in place, Australia's federal government may not fund disease-containment measures in the event of any future outbreaks.

The legislation would provide the framework for the government to levy horse owners. While the proposal has support, there are concerns it may ultimately place an unfair cost burden on recreational horse owners.

The levy, if the government chooses to collect it, would be imposed when a horse is first registered.

The passing of the law would allow the Australian horse industry to become a signatory to the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA).