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Flu restrictions ease in Queensland

December 5, 2007

Restrictions on horse movements in southeast Queensland's red zone are being significantly eased for the first time since the outbreak of equine influenza in August.

Premier Anna Bligh, in announcing the change, said equine flu had peaked in early October and was slowly trending down.

"This is a clear sign there's an end in sight to the tough times felt by horse owners and businesses throughout Queensland," she said.

"Thanks to the ongoing dedication of horse owners, Queensland is winning the battle against EI and we are well on track to achieving eradication. However, it is as important now as it ever was to ensure everyone follows the rules to the letter. This is a critical time and everyone must be continue to be vigilant."

From Friday, some areas in the existing red zone, including Maroochy Shire, Dalby and Stanthorpe, would be reclassified as amber, allowing free movement within those areas.

Horses must have a waybill, which can be easily downloaded from www.dpi.qld.gov.au, and still require a permit to be moved out of the amber zone.

Red zones restrictions have been lifted in Gympie, Goondiwindi and Nanango, allowing free movement within the area.

Restrictions also will be relaxed for owners in the red zone from Friday. Although they will still need a permit from DPI&F to move a horse within the Red Zone, conditions have been eased.

Depending on whether a horse has had the disease or not, whether it's been vaccinated or comes from a "resolved" property, horses may be moved within the red zone, as long as they are kept away from known infected properties.

Ms Bligh said that to strike the balance between containing EI and helping the industry get back on its feet, the changes were very area-specific.

"For this reason, I urge all horse owners to seek more information from the DPI&F website and find out exactly what the changes will mean to them," she said.

The Queensland state government has provided a $A20 million assistance package and negotiated to ensure that more than 84,000 vaccinations had been distributed to date in Queensland.

The number of infected properties is currently around 2100, although the virus will no longer be active on a great majority of them.

The Department of Communities has provided almost $A900,000 in emergency assistance.

Horse industry workers affected by the outbreak and struggling venues will get further help through a series of state government-funded work scheme.

Ms Bligh said a $A1.2 million grant would give work to 93 people who have lost income as a result of the crisis.

"This will benefit racing venues and showgrounds, allowing them to improve facilities and fulfil new requirements resulting from the horse flu crisis," she said.

"Work will include painting, ground maintenance, mowing, landscaping, track work and general repairs."

Venues to benefit from mini-makeovers include Caboolture Showgrounds, Burpengary Equestrian Centre, Redcliffe Pony Club, Marburg Pacing Association, Gold Coast Turf and Harness Racing Clubs, Beaudesert Racing Club, Deagon Queensland Racing Club, Brisbane and Queensland Turf Clubs, and the Redcliffe and Albion Park Harness Racing Clubs.

 

 

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