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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 8 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 2183..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

our base, the fact that we do not have the opportunities that other places do, that the bigger states have, those with broad economic bases. It is a remarkable achievement for this government to be providing government services to the level we are with a narrow economic base, with a narrow range of opportunities for the pursuit of revenue measures, but nevertheless to continue to provide at an exemplary level government services within the territory at below average levels of taxation. It is a remarkable achievement and I am enormously proud of it.

Equine influenza

MS PORTER: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, media reports since the weekend have highlighted the extremely serious nature of the outbreak of equine influenza in Sydney. Can the Chief Minister tell the Assembly how the ACT government has responded to the outbreak?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms Porter for her question. As members would be aware, equine influenza is an exotic disease to Australia, a disease that has never before presented anywhere in Australia. It is scheduled as a category 4 emergency animal disease. It is an acute, highly contagious viral disease which can cause rapidly spreading outbreaks of respiratory disease in horses, donkeys, mules and other equine species.

The disease is not generally fatal, but it can be fatal in old or infirm horses and young foals. It is spread by direct contact, particularly between horses, but it can also be spread through indirect contact with contaminated tack or equipment. Equine influenza poses no threat to people; however, of course, it can be spread by people to horses via, for instance, infected clothing.

There has been a national response—a very good, collaborative and cooperative response—between the Australian and all state and territory governments to the outbreak of equine influenza. That, of course, has involved all of the national and local industry stakeholders in order to contain the virus and hopefully to eradicate it. Nationally, the agreed approach is to contain the further spread of the disease by the immediate restriction of the movement of all equine species and related products.

On Saturday, in response to an initial declaration by New South Wales of a complete movement restriction on all equine species and related materials, I also declared a similar quarantine for the Australian Capital Territory, pursuant to section 19 (1) of the Animal Diseases Act 2005. That declaration will have effect until 1 September, unless it is otherwise revoked.

Following the declaration, the ACT established a local disease control centre at the emergency services facility. Additionally, six major arterial roads to the ACT were signposted advising on movement restrictions. It should be noted that there are quite significant penalties applying to anybody that avoids the quarantine or breaches it. Staff of the Department of Territory and Municipal Services, with the assistance of ACT Policing, staffed all surveillance points over the weekend.


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