Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, says he is still pushing for the Queensland and Commonwealth Government’s to agree to a package of biosecurity measures prepared by the banana industry to tackle Panama Disease in North Queensland.
Mr Cripps said the outbreak of Panama Disease Tropical Race 4 (TR4) was the most serious biosecurity threat to the Australian banana industry, which had a devastating impact on the banana industry in other jurisdictions where it has become endemic.
“Two thirds of Australia’s bananas are grown in the Hinchinbrook electorate, so the potential implications of the spread of TR4 are obviously grave for the banana industry and potentially devastating for the communities I represent” said Mr Cripps.
“Since TR4 was first identified in North Queensland in early March, Biosecurity Queensland (BQ) has responded by issuing quarantine orders on two properties, one in Tully and one in Mareeba and sampling and testing continues” he said.
“I acknowledge the Queensland Government has to date, spent approximately $2 million on the response to TR4, with the BQ response team standing at about 90 strong and that a Taskforce has been formed”.
“I acknowledge also that the Queensland Government has provided $300,000 to the Australian Banana Growers Council for specialist biosecurity advisers and $130,000 also for support services in the Tully community”.
“It was good to see that last week, the two properties under quarantine orders recommenced supplying bananas, after BQ developed protocols to get farmers back to work, while achieving the strongest possible biosecurity outcome”.
“However, the Queensland Government needs to urgently consider the package of biosecurity measures submitted to it by the Australian Banana Growers Council, which I think are very balanced and responsible”.
“This package of measures ought to be immediately supported by the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Government and I’ve made the same representations to the Federal Agriculture Minister”.
While Mr Cripps said he acknowledged the efforts of the Queensland Government to this point, the banana industry’s battle against TR4 was just starting and it needed this package of biosecurity measures to effectively take up the fight.