Labor refuses to confirm drastic cuts to White Spot funding

The Palaszczuk Labor Government has been caught out winding back programs fighting biosecurity threats like white spot disease.

Liberal National Party Shadow Agriculture Minister Tony Perrett said the Budget papers revealed the Palaszczuk Government’s plan to cut funding to biosecurity initiatives beyond 2018-19*.

“Today when asked, Labor Agriculture Minister refused to confirm what we all already know, Labor is cutting funding to White Spot, post 2018-19,” Mr Perrett said.

“Queensland’s biosecurity is the last line of defence for our state’s agricultural industries.

“The crushing blow white spot disease is having on southeast Queensland’s seafood industry should be evidence enough for Labor to keep the blowtorch on these threats.

“Instead, Labor Agriculture Minister Mark Furner is planning to cut funding to the containment of white spot disease, pest and weed initiatives, and the response to panama TR4 – a fungal disease lethal to bananas.

“White spot is still being detected in prawns being sold on supermarket shelves, which means it’s not contained at all.

“Panama TR4 is a constant threat and the biggest challenge facing the banana industry.

“Labelling programs that fight these diseases ‘limited life initiatives’ shows Agriculture Minister Furner is taking Queensland’s biosecurity for granted by prematurely ending funding.”

Mr Perrett said Labor should have done its due diligence and allocated the appropriate funding for the future.

“Instead, what we see is a bumbling Minister who can’t guarantee these funding cuts won’t compromise our agricultural industries,” Mr Perrett said.

“We also saw there was a cut to Queensland biosecurity staff in the Budget.

“It’s time this Labor Government got serious about biosecurity before another outbreak like white spot disease has even more severe consequences for Queensland.

“Biosecurity is a state and federal issue and Labor needs to ensure Queensland’s agricultural industry is given every chance to survive and thrive.”

Background:

  • P18 “The decrease in expenses beyond 2018-19 can be attributed to the finalisation of funding arrangements for various departmental limited life initiatives (including the Panama disease TR4 response, the containment of White Spot Disease (WSD), the Technology Commercialisation Fund, the Sustainable Fishing Strategy, and pest and weed initiatives).” Department of Agriculture 2018-19 SDS: https://budget.qld.gov.au/files/SDS-Agriculture%20and%20Fisheries-2018-19.pdf
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