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    Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
    The Honourable John McVeigh

    Mulherin, Katter wrong on NQ health risks

    Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
    The Honourable John McVeigh

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

    Mulherin, Katter wrong on NQ health risks

    CLAIMS today by the Deputy Opposition leader Tim Mulherin and independent Federal Member Bob Katter that the State Government was putting North Queensland at risk by not proceeding with a new vet lab in Townsville were false and misleading.
    State Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry John McVeigh said the decision not to build the $18 million facility at James Cook University was based solely on the need to rein-in spending and definitely posed no additional risk to agriculture in North and Far North Queensland.
    “We’ve been left with an unholy mess by Labor and we’re having to make tough decisions. The project was totally unfunded and after taking expert advice from my Department I’ve made the decision not to proceed,” Mr McVeigh said.
    “As the former Minister responsible for agriculture, I would have expected Mr Mulherin to know that tests for major animal diseases are done at the State lab at Coopers Plains in Brisbane and any confirmation tests that are required, for example for Hendra virus, are done at the Australian Animal Health Lab in Geelong.
    Mr McVeigh said claims by Mr Mulherin and Mr Katter that the State Government was pulling scientists away from Dengue fever work were completely false.
    “The Newman Government is proceeding with the new $42 million Tropical Health facility, which will focus on Dengue as well as other tropical human diseases. The Government is also proceeding with a new high school co-located at JCU.
    “Despite Mr Mulherin’s protests, the fact remains that he was part of the Bligh Labor government which failed to budget for projects which it promised. If they’d been able to balance the books better, then we wouldn’t be in in this mess.”
    Mr McVeigh said other claims made by Mr Katter on ABC radio that spending cuts were only being made in North Queensland were also false.
    “We are being forced to find savings right across Queensland, but most of the savings are being made in head offices in Brisbane.
    “Programs and staff are being cut in my own town of Toowoomba and these decisions are having to be made by me as Minister and the Government because of the years of waste and mismanagement of Anna Bligh, Andrew Fraser and the former Minister for Agriculture Tim Mulherin.
    “The Newman Government is focussed on reining-in Labor’s massive $65 billion debt, getting back to basics and delivering the frontline services Queenslanders need and deserve.”
    Mr McVeigh said key scientists at the Townsville vet lab would be offered transfers to remain with the Department.
    [ENDS] 25 July 2012

    Media Contact: Jacinta Cummins – 0408 709 160