Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, has called on the State and Federal Governments to immediately support a request from the Australian Banana Growers Council (ABGC) for assistance in response to the outbreak of Panama Tropical Race 4 (TR4) in North Queensland.
Mr Cripps endorsed the package of measures outlined by the ABGC as a sensible and measured proposal from a responsible and disciplined industry body that deserved the full and immediate support of both the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments.
“The ABGC have put forward a 5 point plan that seeks to allow farms to operate with TR4, increase the biosecurity measures in place for farms with and without TR4, ensure the integrity of plant material and boost research to increase industry resilience” said Mr Cripps.
“All of these initiatives are reasonable and practical requests and with the ABGC indicating that industry is willing to contribute (as it always has in the past) to this increased biosecurity effort, the State and Federal Governments should agree to them without delay” he said.
In addition to the 5 point plan released by the ABGC, Mr Cripps said he wanted to see the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments formalise a bilateral agreement to fund a testing and control program that would continue to battle the spread of TR4.
“I also want to see the State and Federal Governments take the lead on funding a research and development program to fight the disease in terms of possible vaccines, new plant varieties and better products to treat, prevent and mitigate TR4” said Mr Cripps.
“Banana growers already pay a research levy and these funds go towards important research programs to address other challenges confronting the banana industry, so I wouldn’t want those issues ignored or overlooked because the focus in now on TR4” he said.
“While industry needs to have input into an enhanced research and development program in response to TR4, the ABGC may well need to commit additional resources to its promotions and marketing campaign, to inform and reassure consumers” said Mr Cripps.
“We’ve been told we have a different banana industry in North Queensland from the one we had before the 3rd March this year and this proposal for a package of biosecurity measures is all about adjusting to the requirements of that new operating environment” he said.