The federal government has thrown $1.1 million to spur on a group working to establish a horse traceability framework to make better progress, following concerns it was failing to meet its targets.

Key points:

  • Federal funds will “up the tempo” on horse traceability recommendations
  • The National Horse Traceability working Group has met nine times since October, 2020
  • Advocates for horse traceability worry the group is failing to make sufficient progress

The National Horse Traceability Working Group is to consider and recommend a framework for a national system in Australia.

It aims to enhance biosecurity measures and tracking in a variety of equine sectors, including racing and agriculture. 

The group was established following a Senate inquiry in 2019.

But the group’s progress has been criticised by equine advocates and politicians since its creation last year.

An emaciated horse on a property

Animal welfare outcomes are one of the aims of a national traceability system.(Supplied: RSPCA South Australia)

Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud said the funding would help the group progress towards creating recommendations.

“The Australian government’s funding contribution will support the group to up the tempo on its efforts to resolve recommendations on the form and implementation of national horse traceability arrangements,” Mr Littleproud, said.

David Littleproud at NTLEA

David Littleproud has announced funding for the National Horse Traceability Working Group. (Facebook: NTLEA)

“I look forward to receiving, alongside my state and territory ministerial colleagues, the advice of the working group.”

Shaky confidence on progress

The funding follows criticism from Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi, who this month raised concerns that the working group is failing to make sufficient progress.

The Senator, wearing a red shirt, stands outside Parliament House in Canberra on a sunny day

Senator Mehreen Faruqi at Parliament House. (Supplied: The Greens)

“I am really worried about what seems to be very slow progress towards the development of the national horse traceability register,” Senator Faruqi said.

“It’s been two years since the Senate inquiry made unanimous recommendations, and it’s been a year since the working group has been established.

She has now welcomed the new federal funding announcement to spur along the group’s work.

“However, this funding allocation means little without a clear implementation plan from the working group, which was established over a year ago and appears to have made little progress.

“Minister Littleproud offered the working group $50,000 for its work in March, but this has not been allocated.

“We need movement from the working group and a clear commitment to getting this register off the ground as a matter of urgency.”

Working group continues to meet

A Senate inquiry in 2019 into the feasibility of establishing a National Horse Traceability Register led to the creation of a working group last year.

It is also set to engage with owners of abattoirs and knackeries to integrate into a single register.

The National Horse Traceability Working Group met for the first time in October 2020.

They have met nine times since, with two face-to-face meetings occurring.

“The working group will consider and recommend a framework for a national horse register or traceability system in Australia … and is on track to provide recommendations to the agriculture ministers meeting in mid-2022,” National Traceability Working Group chair Stuart McLean, said.

Membership of the group includes representatives from across the horse industry, such as Animal Health Australia, the Australian Horse Industry Council, Harness Racing Australia, Racing Australia, Equestrian Australia and the RSPCA, as well as Commonwealth and state and territory governments.

The Victorian government, in close collaboration with the Queensland government, has played a lead role in establishing a National Horse Traceability Working Group.

The working group is taking into consideration horse traceability systems in use overseas, lessons from other traceability systems existing in Australia, and looking at what will be fit for purpose for the varied horse industries and groups.

Posted , updated 

Federal funds used to spur on horse tracing recommendations
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