The LNP yesterday committed to delivering $3 million over 4 years to help the North Queensland banana industry fight the spread of Panama Disease, by stepping up feral pig control measures.
LNP Member for Hinchinbrook, Andrew Cripps, said yesterday’s announcement demonstrated the LNP had listened to local banana growers about the biosecurity risks faced by the industry.
Mr Cripps said along with LNP Shadow Agriculture Minister, Dale Last and LNP Hill candidate, Mario Quagliata, he had acted to respond to concerns about feral pigs spreading TR4.
“Since TR4 was identified in March 2015 on a property west of Tully, there has been a significant investment in biosecurity infrastructure and surveillance across the region” said Mr Cripps.
“However, what has become clear is that controlling the movement of feral pigs between farms and between private and state land is problematic and they pose a risk to the industry” he said.
“This is now much more than just economic losses from damage to crops by feral pigs, this is about potentially huge economic losses across the industry from the spread of Panama Disease”.
“This funding commitment is designed to boost resources and engage an experienced contractor to co-ordinate feral pig control efforts in the Tully-Murray and Johnstone River catchments”.
Mr Cripps said he hoped the current resources provided by state government agencies, local government and private landholders could be integrated into a co-ordinated feral pig program.
“Various methods of control, including shooting, trapping and baiting need to be used in different areas of these two catchments to be effective and to cut down the feral pig population”.
“This is all about supporting the TR4 management strategy to contain the disease as much as possible to enable further scientific research and development to be done on resistant varieties”.
“The Australian banana industry has a $600 million annual farm gate value and a total annual industry value of over $1 billion – bananas are Australia’s most popular fresh fruit”.
“The Cassowary Coast Region is the heart of the Australian banana industry and the TR4 biosecurity issue is a serious challenge that we must all pull together to respond to effectively”.
Mr Cripps said the Palaszczuk Labor Government had not responded to requests by the banana industry to consider additional funding for the control of feral pigs in response to the TR4 issue.