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ABA Chairman Welcomes Quarantine Review

19 June 2008

AUSTRALIA - ABA Chairman Brad Bellinger has said that he welcomes a review by the Federal Government into the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS).

According to him the Callinan Inquiry into the escape of EI from the Eastern Creek Facility gives a sobering account of how fundamental biosecurity measures were not being implemented at Australia's largest government animal quarantine station, due to what he claims to be the 'incompetence by AQIS program managers'.

Mr Bellinger said: "The devastating impact on the horse industry costing hundreds of millions of dollars would be repeated many times over if the disease was Foot and Mouth and the species were cattle, pigs and sheep."

He added that the previous Government seemed to rely on propaganda by the exponents of the demonstratively flawed NLIS that has already cost producers $250 million in tags and reading charges without taking any of the other costs into account.

"A fraction of this money could be used to bolster the arrangements referred to in the Impact Statement to justify the introduction of NLIS Page 39 for FMD 'High risk movements through sale yards and abattoirs over the critical few weeks of the incubation period for the disease may be satisfactorily traced by the current transaction identification scheme' referring to the cost effective tail tag system."

Mr Bellinger pushes forward the notion that an adequate biosecurity policy should focus on prevention rather than a cure. "We have the advantage of being an island continent and we would hope that live animals could be held off-shore on an island quarantine station for a set time period before entering the mainland."

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