TT-Line and two people charged over the deaths of 16 polo ponies

Two people and the TT-Line ferry service have been charged in relation to the death of 16 polo ponies travelling from Tasmania to Melbourne last year.

They have been charged under Tasmania’s Animal Welfare Act 1993 and Animal Welfare (Land Transport of Livestock) Regulations 2013.

The ponies had been competing in the Barnbougle Polo event in the state’s north in January last year.

One of the people charged is the driver of the float that the 16 ponies were on between January 28 and 29 last year.

The other is another driver, also transporting polo ponies that day, who allegedly did not have them individually stalled in the truck. The health of those horses was not affected.

A spokesman for the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment said the charges were brought following an investigation by the department in relation to all aspects of the transport of the horses from Barnbougle to Victoria.

“Although charges have been laid following investigation of the matter, they relate to a specific set of circumstances and the department reiterates previous advice that there is no ongoing risk for the continued movement of horses across Bass Strait in line with regulatory standards,” the spokesman said.

Labor spokeswoman Sarah Lovell said she hoped this would give livestock owners some assurances.

“I hope that whatever comes out of these charges will provide some assurance to people who are wanting to transport their animals on the TT-Line and we do need to see this followed through and have some kind of closure for people,” Ms Lovell said.

The three have been listed to appear in the Devonport Magistrates Court next month.

Meanwhile, private action by the owners of the polo ponies against the TT Line is continuing in Melbourne.

In a statement TT-Line Company said it was surprised by the charges and will “vigorously defend itself against the complaints made against it by Biosecurity Tasmania”.

“The safety and reliability of the Spirit of Tasmania services for passengers, passenger vehicles and freight, had always been, and would continue to be of critical importance to the company,” CEO Bernard Dwyer said.

“We have been working closely with Biosecurity Tasmania for many months on animal transport and are surprised by the charges.

“We note the comments made by Biosecurity Tasmania immediately after the incident that the department was confident that there was not an ongoing risk for the transport of horses across Bass Strait and that it was an isolated incident.”

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