The Turnbull Government’s biosecurity failings are adding up and posing a real threat to our international competitiveness in the agriculture sector and potentially, our own food security.
Coming fresh off the back of the outbreak of White Spot disease in Queensland’s prawn sector, the arrival of fruit fly in Tasmania should be sounding alarm bells in Canberra but the silence from the Turnbull Government has been deafening.
Our biosecurity can only be strong when both the Commonwealth and the States are working together and properly resourcing our efforts to retain Australia’s relatively pest and disease free status.
The Turnbull Government has all but abandoned Commonwealth-State cooperation with the abolition of the Standing Council on Primary Industries (The CoAG Committee), and its failure to respond to the recommendations of the Plant Biosecurity CRC Fruit Fly report and the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity Review. It also attempted to abolish the position of Inspector General for Biosecurity, a move Labor successfully blocked.
Australia’s key competitive advantage in food export markets is our reputation as a producer of clean, green and safe product. Failings in our biosecurity arrangements threaten that reputation and advantage.
The Hodgman Government having slashed Tasmanian biosecurity funding, must share responsibility with the Turnbull Government for this growing disaster and all the impacts on local growers, jobs and the island-state’s economy.
Labor is committed to both properly resourcing our biosecurity efforts and restoring vital Commonwealth-State cooperation and coordination.