Hendra review leads to stronger engagement with stakeholders
Published Friday, 21 April, 2017 at 04:45 PM
Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Economic Development
The Honourable Bill Byrne
The Palaszczuk Government is supporting most recommendations made in the Agriculture and Environment committee’s report on Hendra virus vaccine and its use by veterinary surgeons.
The final response, tabled today, states the Government is not making the vaccine mandatory and is supporting the right and discretion of equestrian event organisers to make their own decisions around conditions of entry.
Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Bill Byrne said the safety of all those involved in the treatment and care of suspected Hendra cases is, and will always be, the highest priority of the Government.
“It is the responsibility of all parties in Hendra cases to provide and adhere to the correct duty of care for everyone involved including veterinarians creating a safe workspace,” the Minister said.
“As such we will not be proceeding with a recommendation to amend workplace health and safety regulations regarding veterinarians treating suspected cases of the Hendra virus.
“The Office of Industrial Relations had rejected the recommendation as not having sufficient regard for the accepted precedents of the statutory duty of care.
“I have been advised Workplace Health and Safety Queensland will be working with industry to review its guidance materials for veterinarians and other horse care professions on how to fulfil their workplace health and safety responsibilities.”
“We want to make sure everyone involved in dealing with the Hendra virus is protected and to do this it is necessary to follow the best biosecurity practises available.”
The Government continues to strongly recommend the use of the Hendra vaccine as the single most effective way of reducing the risk of Hendra virus infection in horses.
“The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries will continue to work closely with the Queensland horse industry to promote good biosecurity practices to reduce the risk of Hendra virus infection of horses.”
“Biosecurity Queensland has agreed to revise the guidelines for treatment of horses to include information on how to manage risks.
“We will also improve information on how to report adverse reactions to vaccines and chemicals to vets and horse owners.”
The Minister said while the Government supported new technologies, the expert advice was that technology for a rapid stall side test was not as yet advanced to assure safety and accuracy.
“In addition we will not be including stakeholders on the technical expert working group because their work is highly technical and based on complex scientific documents,” he said.
“Rather we will engage with stakeholders through the Horse Biosecurity and Market Access Liaison Group which is a more suitable forum to engage the equine industry.”
Minister Byrne said the recommendation to investigate the feasibility of a Hendra virus exclusion test capability in Townsville or Cairns in order to improve processing times was supported in principle but was not financially feasible at present given the capital and ongoing costs.
“Logistical arrangements are ensuring that North Queensland samples are being processed in the Brisbane facility within acceptable timeframes,” he said.
“However the Department will continue to explore improved sample transport options to improve timeframes for exclusion testing.”
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