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Aust Senate debate on horse levy bill delayed

December 13, 2008

The Australian Senate debate over legislation that would allow the federal government to levy horse owners to recover the cost of fighting disease outbreaks has been postponed until next year.

Agriculture Minister Tony Burke said yesterday debate on the legislation would now take place next year.

He said the debate was postponed after a request from several senators for more time to consider the detail of the Bills.

The Horse Disease Response Levy Bills would provide certainty if a government response was required to handle an emergency disease outbreak.

The legislation, if passed, would provide the framework allowing the government to recover the cost of containment and eradication from horse owners through a levy.

The biggest controversy surrounding the legislation centres on which horse owners would be subject to the levy and how it would be made equitable.

The bills would allow the horse industry to come under the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA).

Other livestock industries are already signatories to the agreement, including the chicken meat, honey bee, cattle, dairy, laying chicken, sheep, lamb, goat and pig industries.

The government announced in June it would not levy the horse industry to pay its share of the cost of the 2007 horse flu outbreak.

The federal government spent more than $A349 million on controlling the outbreak and in financial assistance to individuals, organisations and businesses.



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