Horse flu damage spreads

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

As the Federal Labor Party calls for an inquiry into the outbreak of Equine Influenza, federal Opposition leader Kevin Rudd said "if there is a hole in the quarantine system, it needs to be plugged straight away."

Federal Minister for Agriculture Mr McGauran has cautioned against a rushed judgment that failures at the Eastern Creek Quarantine station was the cause of the outbreak. But an unidentified former quarantine official believes its the most likely source.

Mounted Police patrols during the APEC meeting scheduled for Sydney next week have been canceled, as to plans to bring additional horses from interstate. Deputy Commissioner Andrew Scipione said "It won't stop us being able to protect dignitaries, the public or police at any planned protest"

Organisers of the World Youth Day Papal mass plans of holding the event at Randwick Race course are also doubt. Vice President of the Randwick Trainers Association Mr O'Shea said of the current outbreak "We are going to take a massive financial hit now..."

"If we go through both World Youth Day and equine influenza that would be the death knell for training at Randwick," Original plans for the Papal mass required 10 weeks where trainers would not be able to use the Randwick facilities, a revised plan which would use the venue for 3 days was suggested.

Mr O'Shea said the three-day plan was "totally unworkable" as it would require 24 days of disruption.

Australia's largest wagering company Tabcorp Holdings LTD announced it has lost an estimated A$150 million after the cancellation of last weekends racing, this caused it share price to drop 4.6% on Monday.

A Tabcorp spokes person said "Based on its experience to date, if Australian racing (thoroughbred and harness) were not to resume until next weekend, Tabcorp expects that the loss in turnover will be in the order of A$150m" Further falls are likely with A$1.5 billion in Melbourne Cup and Spring carnival turnover under threat if the outbreak causes cancellation of races.

Tatersalls spokesman said it would have to run into months before it had an significant impact on their earning. Sportsbet said they stood to lose A$20m in turnover each weekend, with A$50m turnover at risk for the Melbourne Cup.

An independent study into the 2005 Melbourne Cup conclude it contribute A$318m into the Victorian economy. The racing industry has called on the Government to setup National disaster relief for the industry.

Peter V'Landy, Chief Executive of Racing New South Wales said "Jockeys can't earn an income unless they're riding. You've got stable hands, catering staff, totalisator staff and, you know, there are a lot of small businesses. I think this is a natural disaster for the racing industry. It's a very big industry, it's one of the top three in Australia, so we are, we are seeking now for financial assistance to these people so they can meet their financial commitment."


Further developments to this story are available. See:
Horse flu infects Australian thoroughbreds

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