RSPCA confident it is safe for horses to travel on the Spirit of Tasmania

Charges have not been ruled out over the deaths of 16 valuable polo horses, discovered after crossing Bass Strait on the Spirit of Tasmania.

A Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and Environment spokesman said on Tuesday: “The investigation is active and it is too early to speculate on any charges being laid.”

Treasurer Peter Gutwein said the investigation should be allowed to take its course.

“There is an investigation underway and I want to make it quite clear that we should allow that investigation to take its course,” Mr Gutwein said.

“In terms of the current investigation let’s allow it to take its course and let’s not prejudice any further actions.

“If there are matters that need to be investigated further, or if charges need to be laid, let’s not prejudice the outcome of that investigation.

“I think people should have faith in the TT-Line.”

RSPCA chief veterinarian Andrew Byrne said he had received a briefing from DPIPWE on Tuesday after asking for details from the government about the investigation which began several weeks ago.

“I have been told by DPIPWE that it looks like it was an isolated incident and that it is unlikely to happen again,” Dr Byrne said.

“We need to be reassured that it is safe for animals to travel and I think it is.”

Dr Byrne said he now understood why the investigation was taking so long.

“It is a really complicated and complex case,” Dr Byrne said.

“It is being conducted across three jurisdictions and it is a long, slow and tedious process.

“They have to be thorough with their interviews.

“It has to be done properly if any charges are to be laid.

“It has to be worthwhile.

“I’m happy now with the process.”

The cause of death of the horses has still not been revealed.

The horses, worth many thousands of dollars, travelled on the Spirit of Tasmania on January 28, after competing at the Barnbougle Polo event the previous week.

DPIPWE has said previously that the deaths are being treated as an isolated incident and that the investigation has not revealed any ongoing issues in relation to transport across Bass Strait.

The Spirit of Tasmania was found to have complied with the requirements relating to the carriage of livestock.

It is not known when the investigation will be finished.