Enhanced Early Detection For Exotic Pest And Disease

Published Tuesday, 21 September, 1999 at 12:00 AM

The Honourable Henry Palaszczuk

Primary Industries Minister Henry Palaszczuk announced State Budget funding set to enhance Queensland's early detection capacity for exotic animal and plant pest and diseases in the State's far north.

Mr Palaszczuk said under the four-year $3.09 million Northwatch program launched last year, $800,000 was allocated to the program in the 1999-2000 Department of Primary Industries' Budget.

"By providing greater early detection for plant and animal pests and diseases, Northwatch is improving our capability to respond to incursions in remote areas and giving greater confidence to our trading partners," he said.

Mr Palaszczuk said major programs over 1999-2000 include: launching an extended community assisted surveillance program; expanding awareness programs within local communities and extend public delivery of information to tourists and visitors to Cape York; and enhancing diagnostic efforts to provide for rapid identification of targeted pests and disease.

Mr Palaszczuk said the Northwatch program reflected the Beattie Government's commitment to strengthening surveillance capabilities to limit the impact of any pest and disease incursions on our production sector.

Last month, Mr Palaszczuk officially opened the Coen Information and Inspection Centre (on the Cape York Peninsula), which has become the frontline defence in the state's ongoing war against exotic animal pests and diseases. Under last year's Beattie Government Budget, funding was allocated for the Coen centre.

"The Coen centre and the broader Northwatch program has strong industry support for its vital role in helping to meet the challenge of keeping our State free of major pests and diseases," Mr Palaszczuk said.

"As a direct result from the papaya fruit fly incursion contingency plans for other major pests and diseases have been and quarantine surveillance strengthened.

"The same partnership approach that helped repel the papaya fruit fly is critical for Northwatch to achieve its goal of keeping Queensland as pest and disease free as possible."

"An important strength of Northwatch is the partnership between industry, community and government. The Budget will enhance that partnership.

"It is a partnership that so successfully repelled the papaya fruit fly with official declaration of its eradication this year. The eradication of the papaya fruit fly is regarded as Australia's most successful exotic plant pest campaign. The $35 million, three-year campaign, initiated in late 1995, covered 70,000 square kilometres."

Also last month, a Queensland technique for gaining fast, effective quarantine clearance for primary produce during an exotic disease outbreak, which was road-tested during the papaya fruit fly, was accepted as the model for the rest of the nation.

All the states and the Northern Territory signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the system known as Interstate Certification Assurance (ICA) at last month's meeting of Australian agricultural ministers in Sydney.

"The ICA scheme allowed for accredited producers and packers to give plant health certificates as evidence that the quarantine requirements had been met for produce movement across Queensland and interstate," Mr Palaszczuk.

"It meant producers could get their produce to market quicker and cheaper, while meeting the quarantine requirements. ICA simplifies the access to interstate markets, improves the efficiency and quality control, while reducing costs.

Media contact: Russ Morgan 0418 197 350