The paper upon the quarantine administration read by the Chief Inspector of Stock for New South Wales (Mr. S. T. D. Symons) before the recent Sydney conference of stock inspectors, contained some valuable historical matter, akin to that which is being furnished to "Farmer and Settler" readers from issue to issue by Mr. Charles White. Continuing his account, Mr. Symons said:—
Apparently the first yearly report of the Chief Inspector of Stock, New South Wales, presented to Parliament, was for the year 1869, and addressed to the Minister for Lands. It was confined to reporting on "Sheep and Cattle." In the next year a report was furnished on "Live Stock," and this has since been continued annually. In the report first mentioned, reference is made to the quarantining of sheep, a practice that had apparently been in existence for some time and applied not only to sheep imported from outside Australia, but to those introduced into New South Wales from Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland, and South Australia. In the report for 1870, there is a very important reference to the matter of the quarantine of imported stock, which reads as follows:—
I would also again urge the necessity for imported horses and cattle passing an examination and quarantine for fourteen days at least, near the port of debarkation, previous to their being allowed to mix with, or come in contact with, those belonging to this colony, and for presenting the landing of any forage brought out with imported stock. Had such a law as this been in force in the and adjoining colonies, it is reasonable to suppose that pleuro-pneumonia would never have got a footing in Australia ; and there are many other diseases prevalent among stock in Europe which are not know in Australia, and which might be excluded by such enactments as these.
For instance, foot and mouth disease (Vesicular Apthae), one of the most infectious diseases in stock, is now prevalent in almost every part of England and although the chances are against its introduction here, it is not impossible for it to be brought out, if not by the stock, by the fodder. If it were decided that all imported stock should pass such a probation as here suggested, accommodation might be obtained for them on the sheep quarantine ground ; and the charges should be fixed at such a rate as would just cover the expense of forage and attendance, in order that the expenses of the quarantine might fall as lightly as possible on the importers of these valuable animals. In case these suggestions are acted upon, I would further recommend that the attention of the governments of the adjoining colonies should be directed to the subject because precautions to be effectual should be taken by all the colonies.
This very valuable recommendation was made by the late Alex Bruce, who was then Chief Inspector of Stock.
Apparently the first legislation dealing with stock diseases in New South Wales was the "Scab and Catarrh in Sheep Act," dated October 24th, 1853, followed by the "Diseases of Sheep Act of 1866," which was consolidated later with the "Stock Act of 1901." The first gazetted quarantine area as the result of the Scab Act referred to, was some land in Surry Hills, situated at the corner of Fitzroy and Dowling streets, and long after scab was exterminated from New South Wales the area was still used for the purpose of quarantining coastal sheep that were proposed to be removed to holdings west of the Dividing Range, In the course of time this sheep quarantine was moved to Randwick, and it is interesting to note that it was closed for a considerable period and a depot for sheep established at Summer Hill, on account of the apprehended danger of pollution from the Randwick site of the Centennial Park swamps, which were then largely drawn upon for the Sydney water supply. Later, when the Prospect water supply was available, the Randwick quarantine station was again used.
Incidentally, it might here be mentioned that to deal with imported Victorian sheep and Tasmanian sheep coming through Victoria, there were for many years quarantine depots at Albury and Moama.
Legislation in regard to imported stock was originally, under the administration of the Minister for Lands; later it was transferred to the Minister for Mines, following that to Mines and Agriculture, succeeded by Lands and Agriculture, and, finally, while under state control, by the Department of Agriculture.
Following representations made as to the necessity of providing a quarantine for imported cattle, the "Imported Stock Act of 1871" came into existence, and the first place where cattle were quarantined was at Garden Island. As these animals were supposed to have recovered from an attack of foot and mouth disease on board ship, the island was not further used, and, for awhile, stock were quarantined at Dawes' Point, but, later, a quarantine of a more permanent nature, was located at Shark Island, where all classes of stock were quarantined. A notable detention in the matter of horses, was that of the horses of Sell's Circus, an American exhibition, the horses being removed there from the circus ground at Moore Park, on account of an outbreak of glanders.
An area at Bradley's Head was later utilised for animal quarantine, being brought into existence, I understand, on account of Shark Island being congested at times and with the object of less close association of newly imported animals with those whose period of detention had almost expired.
An animal quarantine station was also established at Newcastle, but this was used for little else than the quarantining of dogs while ships were in port, a very considerable number of which were carried in the old sailing-ship days; and these had to be provided for.
After the restrictions on the movement of coastal sheep were suspended, Randwick was utilised for a considerable period for the purpose of quarantining horses. When Shark Island was abandoned because it was to be given over to recreation purposes, another animal quarantine station was established at Athol, in what was then portion of the military reserve which also embraced Bradley's Head. Being no longer required as a military reserve, the whole of this area was subsequently rededicated as Ashton Park.
By the Quarantine Act of 1008, the importation of stock from over seas into Australia passed from the administration of the states to that of the Commonwealth and eventually Randwick and Bradley's Head depots were closed down, as also Newcastle, the last-named place consequent upon ships' dogs and other animals being held on board during the period that the vessels were in port under a ship-master's bond.
The Imported Stock Act of 1871 applied to cattle and sheep only, and it was not until the Imported Stock Amendment Act of 29th August, 1884, that the definition of "stock" was altered to include "goats, swing, dogs, and such other animals as may be proclaimed from time to time in the Government Gazette." A proclamation in regard to these animals appeared in the "Government Gazette" of the 8th January, 1885. As to when horses first underwent detention in quarantine, the evidence is not very clear, and although it is believed that the regulations applied to them some time beforehand, the proclamation including horses, did not appear until the 10th January, 1893. My own opinion is that any previous action was taken under the assumption that they might included under the definition of "cattle": but as a result of Sells Bros, applying for an injunction in regard to the detention of their circus horses, the proclamation before referred to was thought to be necessary, it being decided by the Full Court that horses were not cattle.