Minister Guy acknowledges Equine Industry’s accomplishment

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy when attending the Karaka National Yearling Sales 2015 took time to acknowledge the signing the Government Industry Agreement by the equine industry.

In his speech he stated that it was a pleasure to witness the signing of the GIA Deed by the New Zealand Equine Health Association (NZEHA) and wished to acknowledge the New Zealand Equine Health Association and its members for their role in facilitating consultation and negotiation on the Government Industry Agreement (GIA).

The New Zealand Equine Health Association is comprised of a diverse membership, including recreational as well as commercial interests. The partnership between the equine industry and government paves the way for a collaborative approach to managing biosecurity issues that could potentially impact on events such as today’s Karaka National Yearling Sales.

Members of the New Zealand Equine Health Association had been working with MPI and their predecessor MAF as long ago as 2007 when a discussion document was produced on Joint Decision-Making and Resourcing for Readiness and Response.

The valuable input from the equine industry on that 2007 document and beyond contributed to the eventual agreement now called the GIA deed.  The equine industry is now in partnership with the government to prepare and respond to exotic or new equine diseases.

The aim of the Government Industry Agreement is to maximise government and industries collective capability and capacity to more effectively manage biosecurity risks related to the equine industry.

Biosecurity risk comprises two elements:

  • The probability of a biosecurity event occurring; and
  • The consequences of a biosecurity event occurring.

Minister Guy reminded the audience that “Biosecurity readiness and response is a shared responsibility and benefits us all. The GIA establishes the basis for a transparent, consistent and equitable partnership between MPI and the equine industry, to improve biosecurity readiness and response outcomes.The GIA partnership seeks to deliver an integrated approach to prepare for, and effectively respond to, biosecurity risks through joint decision-making and cost sharing.We all have a role to maintain New Zealand’s disease and pest free status from many devastating diseases and pests that are now endemic in other countries. This means engaging and working together to increase resilience and manage risk.”

The Biosecurity Act was revised in 2012 to make provision for the GIA Deed and the equine industry was the fourth to sign, followings the Pork, Kiwi Fruit and Pipfruit industry agreements.

It is the view of Government that the Government Industry Agreement on Biosecurity Readiness and Response offers the equine industry more certainty that responses to equine diseases will be managed effectively. The GIA also provides the opportunity to be more involved in biosecurity decision making.However, with this responsibility comes a share of the costs for readiness and response activities.The GIA provides a seat at the table for the equine industry when decisions are being made which have direct impacts on the industry. The responsibility for preparing for and responding to biosecurity incursions will be a joint approach. MPI shares the same values as the New Zealand Equine Health Association: progressing equine Biosecurity, health and welfare matters.

The New Zealand Equine Health Association is constituted, on behalf of equine interests and organisations in New Zealand, to:

  1. Ensure readiness and response procedures for equine disease emergencies;
  2. Establish optimal communication and action across equine sectors and government for disease response;
  3. Facilitate the safe entry and exit of horses in and out of NZ and prevent equine disease incursions;
  4. Develop and sponsor a code of welfare for horses.

Minister Guy recognised that the NZEHA has a diverse membership including a mix of commercial and recreational members, yet there is a clear recognition that all horses could be affected by disease. He commended the association for the communication and unified response with regard to disease management, across the association. He added that the GIA provides an opportunity to harness the diversity of the equine industry into a consolidated industry/government partnership. He recalled the 2007 Equine Influenza (El) which spread along Australia’s eastern seaboard. Although New Zealand was spared from the potentially devastating direct effects of El entering its horse population, indirect effects were still widespread and long lasting and reiterated that the Government Industry Agreement provides the framework for managing biosecurity issues such as Equine Influenza, in an efficient and coordinated way.

In his closing comment he acknowledged the diversity of the equine industry, “which includes the economically significant racing and breeding sector and a diverse and equally important sport and recreation sector, and offered his congratulations on the beginning of a new partnership between your industry and MPI to improve connectivity and engagement to enhance our biosecurity system.The GIA provides the best opportunity to harness our collective efforts to continually improve New Zealand’s biosecurity system and I would encourage us all to keep open hearts and open minds to the new possibilities enabled by government and industry partnerships.As Mark Twain once said “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” The signing of the GIA Deed is not the end of this process; it represents the beginning of a new partnership approach to improve New Zealand’s biosecurity system.”

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