Biosecurity response tops $2m

The cost of the biosecurity response to TR4 has topped $2 million, according to a Queensland Government estimate.
Queensland Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne said on April 27: “The Palaszczuk Government said from the outset that it would do everything possible to prevent Panama disease from ravaging the industry.

“Today I can confirm that the Department has so far spent $2 million-plus in the response so far.

“The response has entailed surveillance, sampling, testing, establishing control centres and community-industry education.

“Biosecurity Queensland rapidly assembled a multi-disciplinary response team that now numbers more than 90 staff and includes some of the state’s most experienced scientific researchers and biosecurity experts.

“The Department has fast-tracked the training of contractors, deployed skilled technical staff from within the Department and has sourced expert personnel from the Commonwealth Government, local councils, interstate agencies and industry and research groups.”

In addition to this, the Queensland Government is funding $300,000 of a $600,000 initiative for the Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) to deploy on-farm biosecurity experts (see story, Page 13).

ABGC Chief Executive Officer Jim Pekin said: “Biosecurity Queensland has
provided substantial resources to the TR4 response in North Queensland and we thank them for the quick action taken with initial quarantine and surveillance work and the ongoing effort which now involves more than 90 BQ staff.

“Together with the efforts of banana growers, these initiatives are giving our industry the best possible chance to contain this plant disease and protect the banana industry.”

Mr Pekin said ABGC was waiting to hear announcements on other assistance measures requested of both the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments.