(QldGovSpin) State Gov't gets tough on plant biosecurity

Submitted by Editor on Wed, 18/08/2004 - 22:02

The State Government will strengthen its armour to eradicate introduced plant diseases and pests Primary Industries and Fisheries Minister told Parliament last night (17 August 2004).

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Primary Industries & Fisheries, Henry Palaszczuk
primaryindustries@cabinet.qld.gov.au
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18/08/04

Mr Palaszczuk said the Plant Protection Amendment Bill 2004 makes urgent and vital changes to the Plant Protection Act 1989 that were identified as a result of the Citrus Canker Emergency Response.

He said the new amendments would give the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries enhanced legal capacity to eradicate Citrus Canker and similar serious exotic plant diseases that may strike in the future.

"The impacts of introduced diseases and pests on Queensland and Australian industries can be enormous if the timely and effective response is obstructed,"
Mr Palaszczuk said.

"This Government is committed to plant biosecurity, but we need certainty from strong legislation to apply the appropriate eradication measure when necessary."

Mr Palaszczuk said the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F) had exercised its full powers to prevent, control and eradicate Citrus Canker, developing a nationally-approved response within a matter of days, but threats of Supreme Court actions could have delayed or prohibited the state's quarantine response.

"In this case, the Court upheld DPI&F actions, but the experience has demonstrated changes are necessary to protect the department from legal challenges against emergency quarantine actions," he said.

"If governments are to be charged with the responsibility of tackling devastating exotic diseases, we need strong legislation to undertake eradication measures without the threat of being compromised through legal challenges."

Mr Palaszczuk said other amendments included record keeping requirements that will improve the traceability of diseases and surveillance powers to ensure DPI&F officers can monitor for the presence or absence of a pest and to monitor success.

He said citrus canker was an insidious disease and it would take up to two years to eradicate.

"These are tough measures, but if Government is charged with the responsibility of tackling devastating diseases like citrus canker, it needs the tools to do so without being compromised at every corner," he said.

Media contact: Sue Tierney 3239 3007 or 0408 180 152

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