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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62

Temporary Prohibition of the Importation of Stock

Temporary Prohibition of the Importation of Stock

On resuming at 2 p.m the Conference took up the subject of the temporary prohibition of importation of stock from Great Britain. The Sub-Committee remarked as follows on the point:—"Owing to the recent outbreak of that extraordinary loath some foot and mouth disease, it is therefore thought imperative in the interest of page 21 the colony that the Government should be asked to at once temporarily close our ports, and not again open them until Great Britain has been declared free of that disease for at least three months, and that the Australian colonies be asked to take similar measures. One thing is certain, and that is, if it gets amongst our flocks and herds it would be disastrous in its results, for, although it is not necessarily a fatal disease, provided that the affected stock can receive individual care in the way of dressing, the case would be very different under the condition of things existing in the colony, where our herds are not domesticated sufficiently to submit to handling. The losses would be appalling, as the unfortunate animals would simply perish for want of food and water, being unable to provide for themselves. The importance of this matter is therefore self-evident."

Mr John Grigg moved—"That owing to the recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Great Britain the Government be asked temporarily to close the ports, and that the ports be not re-opened for three months after Great Britain is declared clean." He thought the importance of this matter was self-evident. People had gone to England to see if they could get better animals than here, particularly as regarded Lincoln sheep. Their Lincoln- Leicesters and Down sheep were quite as good as could be got in England. It was not surprising, because in the good times the colonists had gone to England with full purses, and had got the finest sires that could be procured. He submitted that it was a great mistake to run so much on fresh blood. Surely if a man bred 300 or 400 rams it would be safer to breed from these than from imported animals. He had seen numbers of imported sheep brought in, but the fact remained that they had not more prizes in their show yard when opposed to locally bred animals. They must remember that the foot and mouth disease had been introduced into New South Wales, and if that was the case it might come here, He would add to his resolution a recommendation to the Australian colonies to take the same action.

Mr Bidwell seconded the motion, and strongly supported the arguments adduced by Mr Grigg.

The Chairman read a letter from Mr J. Stackery, Wairarapa, urging that the Conference should pass a resolution asking the Government to close the ports in the country.

Mr Grigg said he would amend his motion by adding the following words:—"And that the Australian Associations be requested to bring pressure to bear on their respective Governments to take similiar steps."

In reply to Mr McLaren,

Mr Grigg said that there would be no-doubt that stock purchased prior to the prohibition reaching England would no doubt be allowed to land.

Mr J. Macfarlane suggested that the resolution should be made to apply to horses from California. There was a very serious outbreak of glanders in California, which it would be well to guard against.

Mr Grigg said that of course he would be willing to add this. He might say that in his opinion the bot fly now here had been imported from California probably with some of the circuses. There was no doubt in his mind that the fly was the Mexican bot fly.

Mr Chapman asked whether Mr Grigg's resolution meant horses, cattle and sheep being prohibited from coming from Great Britain.

Mr McIntyre suggested that New Zealand ports should be closed against all countries.

Mr Holmes said that he was opposed to the resolution. He would move, as an amendment—"That the present system of importation of stock be continued under an efficient system of quarantine." He pointed out that it was many years since England had been declared free of foot and mouth disease, and the temporary prohibition meant, so far as he could see, a permanent one. He had consulted a gentleman who had experience of this disease, and he had stated that the danger of foot and mouth disease being brought in under a system of efficient quarantine was very small indeed. If they closed their ports against Great Britain they would have to close their ports to Australia. They had, in view of the colony being declared free of scab, a great market for their stock. If New Zealand took up the position of enforcing prohibitory laws against Australia by closing the ports they would lose the advantage, because Australia would be sure to retaliate.

Mr E. T. Rhodes seconded' the amendment.

In reply to a question from the Chairman,

Mr Ritchie stated that during the past year about 100 sheep and two head of cattle had been imported.

Mr Coleman Philips supported the amendment. He pointed out that diseases imported into the Australian colonies had no nidus. Hence before they went to the extreme measure of closing their ports they should wait till a case of foot and mouth disease appeared. If they went the length of prohibiting stock by closing their ports, they would have to do so also against steamers, as it was well known that foot and mouth disease might be carried by hay and straw. He would at any rate prefer to see the whole of the Australasian page 22 ports closed against Great Britain rather than one. A Conference might be arranged therefore for the purpose.

Mr Thomas raised a point of order, that Mr Holmes's amendment was a direct negative.

After some discussion on the point of order,

The Chairman ruled that Mr Holmes's amendment could not be put.

Mr Grigg's motion, as amended, was then put as follows :—"That in consequence of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in cattle or other stock in Great Britain, the Government temporally close the ports of the colony until she has been declared free from disease. That such prohibition shall not take effect with reference to stock already purchased for exportation from England. That horses from California be not excluded."

Mr Fitzroy called attention to the fact that unless they went the whole length of closing the ports against all they would be doing no good, because nothing would be easier than to ship cattle to Australia and thence on to New Zealand. What was wanted was a strict supervision in the matter of quarantine.

Mr Deans said that he fully agreed with Mr Grigg's resolution. Unless they got Australia to join them in this matter it would be useless to take the trouble to get the ports closed. He did not think there would be any hardship in the course proposed as persons had had some three years to import stock.

Mr Cuthbertson thought it would be useless to make such a regulation as now proposed without having a check on the importation of stock via Australia. This might be provided by getting a declaration that the animals had been for a certain time in quarantine in Australia.

Mr Chapman said that the quarantine regulations were just as stringent in Australia as here.

Mr Ritchie, in reply to the Chairman, said that the quarantine regulations in Australia were the same as here.

The resolution was then put and lost by a very large majority.