Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, has called on Biosecurity Queensland (BQ) to review is Panama Disease TR4 Control Plan, in the wake of a second property being identified in the Tully Valley.
Mr Cripps said the recent statement by Agriculture Minister, Bill Byrne, encouraging farmers to arm themselves with Category D weapons to control feral pigs on their land, was totally unacceptable*.
“LNP Shadow Agriculture Minister, Dale Last, met with banana growers in Tully and took their message^ about the risk of feral pigs spreading TR4 to the Queensland Parliament” said Mr Cripps.
“The best response Minister Byrne could come up with is for banana farmers to acquire pump action shotguns and rifles – it goes to show Labor just doesn’t understand this problem” he said.
“While landholders can make a difference on their own land, this effort is wasted if there is no control effort on adjacent properties – in particular, National Parks and other state controlled land”.
“Bill Byrne is ducking for cover, but this is a serious biosecurity concern for the North Queensland banana industry and he needs to do more than just shoot the messenger – in this case Dale Last”.
“With a second property identified with TR4 in the Tully Valley, it is time for BQ to reconsider its surveillance efforts and its wider control plan, to maximise the use of the resources it is using”.
“There is a very strong feeling in the local banana industry that feral pigs are a big risk vector for the spread of TR4 on the ground and it’s important that Minister Byrne and BQ understand this”.
Mr Cripps said the LNP was listening to banana growers and advocating for the TR4 control plan to focus on practical efforts to reduce the risk of the disease, in consultation with the industry.
“In contrast, the Palaszczuk Labor Government refuses to recognise that by locking up National Parks, it has created safe havens for feral pigs, which is now complicating this biosecurity issue”.
“Fobbing off calls for more resources to control feral pigs which could spread TR4, by suggesting that farmers secure Category D weapons, shows Minister Byrne is not taking this issue seriously”.
Mr Cripps said the efforts of farmers, local councils and state government departments to control feral pigs needed to be co-ordinated to maximise their effectiveness across North Queensland.
^ http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/Speeches/spk2017/Dale_Last-Burdekin-20170808-396078278349.pdf#search=(AUTHOR CONTAINS (Dale Last)) OR FILENAME(Dale Last spk* )