THE use of Hendra virus vaccine will not be made mandatory and organisers of equestrian events with have the discretion to make their own decisions around conditions of entry.
Agriculture minister Bill Byrne said the final response, tabled in parliament today, supported most of the recommendations made in the Agriculture and Environment committee’s report on the Hendra virus vaccine and its use by veterinary surgeons.
Mr Byrne said it was 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.
“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,” Mr Byrne said.
“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.”
Mr Byrne said the use of the Hendra vaccine was 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,” Mr Byrne said.
“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.”
Mr Byrne 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.”
Mr Byrne said the recommendation to investigate the feasibility of a Hendra virus exclusion test capability in Townsville or Cairns was not financially feasible.