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A small win for expats with pets after Labor’s biosecurity bungle

Labor has backflipped on its pet permit implementation bungle after being grilled about its ‘dog act’ by The Nationals. Agriculture Minister Murray Watt has confirmed the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry will “provide some flexibility” for previous applications, to minimize adverse effects on those with pets trying to enter Australia.

Leader of The Nationals David Littleproud said the fact 1300 pet permit applications weren’t assessed before Labor announced its new policy had left pet owners in limbo, confused, and upset. “Labor botched the implementation of its new biosecurity rules to the detriment of pet owners overseas,” Mr. Littleproud said. “We want to keep Australia safe and free from disease, but it’s important Australians can have confidence in the system.”

The changes, which came into effect on March 1, lowered the validity of a test showing an animal had been vaccinated against rabies from 24 to 12 months. Under Labor’s new rules, pet owners overseas must now take their animals to official government vets for identity checks even though ‘official government’ vets don’t actually exist in the UK or the USA. Pets may also need to be placed in 30-day quarantine on arrival to Australia, instead of the usual 10 days, but many pet owners cannot get a quarantine place and as a result have been left stranded overseas.

More than 6500 dogs and cats came into Australia in 2022. Minister Watt admitted applicants have been adversely affected by the changes. However, despite Labor promising flexibility, pet owners are still waiting for answers.

US-based Michelle Johnston said her import permit application, submitted in November last year for her pet groodle Harriet, still hadn’t been assessed or approved. “I’ve still not heard anything from anyone and am extremely anxious,” Ms. Johnston said.

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