Serious concerns about the impact of the Abbott Government’s long-delayed biosecurity legislation on the Tasmanian Salmon industry have been exposed at the Senate Inquiry into Environmental Biosecurity.
Not only has there been minimal consultation on the draft legislation, but evidence provided to the Committee has also revealed a clear lack of awareness about regional differentiation issues in the bill.
The Tasmanian Salmonid Growers Association (TSGA) informed the Environmental Biosecurity inquiry about its misgivings, stating that it was still seeking:
“recognition that we are geographically isolated and we are free from pests and diseases we do not share with the mainland…the impact of an occurrence of something taking hold in Tasmania needs to have some level of weighting in the decision making in terms of determining import risk assessments and appropriate levels of protection.”
Tasmania’s unique $500 million salmon industry is particularly vulnerable to the consequences of biosecurity failures because diseases in the marine environment cannot be controlled or eradicated once they are established.
The TSGA also criticised the waning commitment to stakeholder consultation from Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce and his Department:
“Barnaby Joyce is on record as saying that there will be extensive consultation for the biosecurity bill now that the ball has been picked up by the new government…We only found out in the last two weeks that the bill will be going to parliament without any consultation...That was quite a shock.”
The lack of communication and support from the Minister and his Department to stakeholders like the TSGA is extremely disappointing.
Especially when the Government is shifting continually increasing biosecurity compliance costs back to the industry but cutting funding to critical research and development programs improving the industry’s ability to be prepared for challenges.
Only Labor understands that primary producers relying on Tasmania’s relatively pest and disease-free environment must be afforded the highest level of protection against the consequences of incursions.
SUNDAY, 23 NOVEMBER 2014
JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
JOEL FITZGIBBON MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR RURAL AFFAIRS
SPOKESPERSON FOR COUNTRY CAUCUS
MEMBER FOR HUNTER
SENATOR LISA SINGH
SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER
LABOR SENATOR FOR TASMANIA