Lawsuit filed over Australia’s devastating 2007 flu outbreak

In this video, Robin Hosking talks about the devastation he felt at losing Lively Exit, a champion harness racehorse he described as his best friend, to equine influenza during the 2007 outbreak. Hosking is one of the lead applicants in a class action lawsuit filed against the Australian Government over the outbreak.

A law firm has filed a class action against the Australian Government over the 2007 equine influenza outbreak that cost the horse industry millions.

Australia's equine influenza outbreak was in 2007.The firm Maurice Blackburn, which specialises in compensation cases, filed the action yesterday on behalf of more than 550 clients for losses arising from the outbreak.

The action, filed in the Federal Court in Sydney, alleges the Government negligently caused the outbreak that devastated the horse and racing industries after the virus escaped from Eastern Creek Quarantine Station and spread across eastern Australia.

The outbreak, which lasted from August 2007 until January 2008, resulted in hundreds of people suffering significant financial loss.

Many were still struggling to recover as a result, the law firm said.

Clients signed on to the class action include racehorse owners, horse breeders, horse racing clubs, equestrian clubs, horse transporters, jockeys, and trainers.

Maurice Blackburn lawyer Damian Scattini said it was well known that the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) had failed to ensure appropriate quarantine and biosecurity measures were in place to protect the horse and racing industry.

“The failings of AQIS are well known, something confirmed by the Callinan Inquiry in 2008, which found there were systemic failures across Australia’s quarantine systems,” Scattini said.

“While some of these issues have been addressed, the fact remains that there are still many hundreds of people struggling to recover from the financial loss they suffered in 2007.

“Those people deserve to be compensated for what happened to them – many lost livelihoods, farms and businesses they had worked their entire lives to build and have had to start again from scratch at a huge cost,” he said.

Horse flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness among equines. Before the outbreak, Australia had been free of the disease, and the horse population was not vaccinated against it.

The escape of the virus from the Eastern Creek Quarantine Station caused it to spread rapidly across horse populations in Eastern Australia.

The outbreak occurred during the breeding season, in the lead-up to the Spring Racing Carnival.

As a result of the outbreak, people lost horses to the disease, the movement of horses was heavily restricted, crippling many businesses and industries, and the disease also impacted heavily on breeding programs.

The class action is being funded by litigation funder Argentum, with an application for co-funding by Claims Funding Australia.



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