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Horse flu to cost billions – industry wants compensation

The impact of equine influenza is affecting the livelihoods of more than 50,000 people across New South Wales and will result in billions of dollars in lost income to the racing, breeding and related industries.

PKF Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers and Sydney Commercial Law Firm Clinch Neville Long Letherbarrow have been inundated with enquiries from their clients on the financial impact that equine influenza will have.

As a result the two firms are considering a class action to help those who have suffered losses.

According to Jonathan Karlovsky, the PKF partner who will assist in the class action to determine the financial losses incurred, "Equine influenza will cost the Australian economy billions of dollars and will be felt long after the outbreak is contained. Our economy relies heavily on the industry with the financial impact to will be felt not only by the racing and breeding industry, but by transport companies, the hospitality industry, fashion and event promoters – the list goes on."

PKF and Clinch Neville Long Letherbarrow are appalled that the Government has offered too little assistance to the horse racing industry. "If you consider at the Inglis Easter sale where over $148 million worth of bloodstock was sold, the Federal Government earned $14 million in GST alone from that one event, so the pittance being offered is ridiculous," said Karlovsky.

Damien Flower, co-owner of champion Schnitzel, is deeply concerned about the long term impact of equine influenza," When you consider that a stallion like Schnitzel services some 150 mares a year at $33,000 a service, the loss in income quickly adds up. Breeders, bloodstock agents and related breeding players will be affected not only now but in the future when these foals were to be sold."

Although the Governments move to establish the cause of the outbreak is welcomed by the racing industry, the main concern is the irreparable financial loss that will be suffered.

"Many businesses, individuals and their families will suffer major financial loss before a cause for the outbreak is established with many unable to recover at all. This is a prime reason for establishing a class action," said Matthew Hourn, Partner, Clinch Neville Long Letherbarrow.

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