Is a six-month inquiry the best way forward on the Hendra virus issue in Queensland?
Is a six-month inquiry the best way forward on the Hendra virus issue in Queensland? Alistair Brightman

Labor kicks Hendra into long grass, says Opposition

The Palaszczuk Labor Government today kicked the Hendra virus impasse between vets and horse owners into the long grass by announcing an inquiry which will take six months to report, the Opposition claimed.


Shadow Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Deb Frecklington said Labor's lengthy inquiry would affect thousands of people whose lives and businesses were impacted by Hendra and proved the government and the Minister had no intention of taking personal charge of this major issue in the horse industry.


"The Palaszczuk Labor Government is dragging horse vets through the courts over alleged failures to follow Hendra protocols, but is now directing a committee to investigate - further proof this government is frozen at the wheel," Ms Frecklington said.


"This is a Minister and a government that shoots first, then asks a committee to look into it.


"This is a reckless government that's failed horse owners, failed horse vets and failed the broader community. We can't wait for six months for possible solutions. We need action now."


Ms Frecklington said Labor wanted the Agriculture and Environment Committee to examine the efficacy of Hendra vaccine; who will bear the risks;  workplace health and safety decisions by vets; and the impacts of (some) vets not being prepared to treat unvaccinated horses.


"By dragging vets into the courts, the government has left them with little choice," she said.


"Vet practices are being threatened with massive fines of up to $600,000 under vague workplace health and safety guidelines which are clearly not understood by the industry and contain protocols that vets find impractical and indeed dangerous."


Ms Frecklington, who has called for the prosecutions to be put on hold pending a roundtable of all stakeholders led by Ministers, said the Palaszczuk Labor Government was adding another inquiry to the 80-plus already in place.


"This is Labor's way of pretending to do something about this issue. While I'm glad my pressure has resulted in a response, I'm really disappointed in how the Minister is washing her hands of the issue," she said.


"This will leave people in the lurch for another six months and create even more angst for everyone in the horse industry."