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Levy Bill failure angers Australian Racing Board

THE Australian Racing Board has vented its anger after a bill proposing that all horse owners pay a levy to provide a contingency fund for future equine disease outbreaks was blocked in the country's senate.

The Horse Disease Response Levy Collection Bill was introduced to the Australian Parliament in response to the 2007 equine influenza outbreak, whichcrippled the racing and breeding industry in New South Wales and Queensland.

Bob Bentley, chairman of the Australian Racing Board, said: "The decision by the Federal Opposition last night to kill off the horse levy bill goes beyond disappointing – it shows a wanton disregard for the future of the horse industry.

"This is not rocket science – every livestock industry from cattle to chickens has a statutory levy in place to fund the costof disease outbreaks, and the horse industry needs one as well. The name of the legislation says it all – 'Horse Disease Response Levy: if we don't have a levy then the health authorities won't lift a finger the next time we have a disease outbreak'."

Opponents of the bill claimed that it would place an unfair burden on those who do not profit from owning horses. "Adding a levy to the costs of looking after a horse may lead to some families having to give up their pets," said one opponent, Senator Steve Fielding.





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