Australia is recognised internationally as a producer of outstanding horses for a wide variety of disciplines and events. Australia attracts worldwide interest and investment in these events, including the Melbourne Cup. Horses are imported into Australia for breeding to diversify local genetic stock and to compete in sporting events including racing, endurance and dressage.
Horses can be imported to Australia from over 25 approved countries, including Canada, Japan and Iceland. These imported horses can be a considerable risk to Australia’s horse industry, other agricultural industries and human health, due to the exotic diseases and pests they may carry. Horses also pose a significant plant quarantine risk as the seeds of weed species may be present in stalls, equipment and animal faeces. To make sure Australia remains free from these exotic pests and diseases, strict quarantine requirements exist for imported horses and any people or goods in contact with the horse.
Imported horses are required to undergo both pre-export and post-entry quarantine. Before arrival in Australia, horses must undergo pre-export quarantine for a minimum 14 days at a Department of Agriculture approved facility in their home country. Upon arrival in Australia, horses complete post-entry quarantine for a minimum 14 days. Post-entry quarantine can be completed at either the commonwealth-operated post-entry quarantine facility at Eastern Creek, New South Wales or the privately-operated quarantine-approved facilities at Werribee, Victoria and Canterbury Park, New South Wales.
The new post-entry quarantine facility being built at Mickleham in Victoria will replace the existing commonwealth-operated facility at Eastern Creek. The new horse facilities are split across two independent compounds. Each compound will include stables to accommodate up to 40 horses, a surgery, turnout yards and a horse walker, as well as a truck drop off and wash station and an amenities building. The structural components of the facility are completed, and fit out of the stables will complete the construction of the facility in July 2015. When the facility is completed, it will be tested using domestic horses to ensure it meets the department’s biosecurity and welfare standards.
The Mickleham horse compound will commence operation in late 2015. Once operating, all horses destined for commonwealth-operated quarantine will be required to enter Australia through Melbourne Airport and complete post-entry quarantine at the new facility.