The State Government has backed the Western Australian racing industry in its endeavour to obtain Federal approval for an allocation of Equine Influenza (EI) vaccine.
Racing and Gaming Minister Ljiljanna Ravlich said today that she had written to the approving authority, the National Management Group, to lend her support to RWWA’s request for an allocation of the vaccine to immunise up to 3,000 horses that were critical to the upcoming thoroughbred and harness racing summer carnivals.
“Despite the restrictions on interstate horse movements and other bio-security measures implemented to prevent the spread of EI to WA, there remains a significant risk to the WA horse population, particularly in relation to the virus being transferred by humans travelling from an EI infected jurisdiction to WA,” Ms Ravlich said.
“The response by our regulators and industry participants has so far been terrific, but we are not out of the woods and we need to do everything we can to minimise the risk to our industry.”
The summer carnivals, which run for two months from early December, contributed millions of dollars to the State’s economy, provided high value racing product for wagering operators around Australia, and were critical to the jobs of thousands of Western Australians.
“In seeking approval for an allocation of the vaccine, RWWA is proposing to mirror the action taken in Victoria, which is so far EI free, to vaccinate those horses that will compete in the upcoming spring carnival,” the Minister said.
“This action is for the purposes of risk mitigation and asset protection in relation to the upcoming summer carnivals and does not relate to a preventative mass vaccination process or ongoing vaccination strategy that may or may not be needed for the management of EI in the longer term.”
Ms Ravlich said that calls to the Federal Government for funding assistance for the WA racing industry in view of the quarantine failure that led to the EI outbreak had so far fallen on deaf ears.
“Not only has the Federal Government ignored our requests for financial assistance, it seems that it is now opposing RWWA’s request for an allocation of vaccine,” she said.
“For the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Mr Peter McGauran, to suggest that WA is not suffering an impact because we are so far EI free is an appallingly ignorant position to take.”
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