26 September 2023

Specialised squad to tackle biosecurity

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The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is to recruit a specialised squad of trained biosecurity officers to boost the State’s defences against outbreaks of Foot and Mouth and Lumpy Skin diseases.

The Department has briefed Cabinet on the more than $20 million package of initiatives to deal with the new threats, which includes the addition of 15 staff.

Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk said the nation was facing unprecedented biosecurity risks.

She said the package would be supplemented by a continuing annual allocation of almost $2.5 million to boost Queensland’s existing capacity to address increasing biosecurity risks.

“We are stepping up our programs to strengthen years of preparation and prevention measures designed to protect the State’s cattle, sheep, goat and pork industries,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Getting these front-line officers strategically located throughout rural and regional Queensland is a top priority.”

The new measures also include increased support for the Emergency Animal Disease Preparedness team; providing communications, engagement and training support to industry, and further detailed mapping of key supply chains.

The Cabinet was told that a large outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease alone could cost the national economy $80 billion over 10 years, while outbreaks of that disease and Lumpy Skin Diseases in Indonesia had put Australian farmers and Governments on full biosecurity alert.

“Queensland already has very strong legislation and systems in place to deal with these threats,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Our farmers know that biosecurity is complex and preparedness against a wide range of threats is critical to success,” she said.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development, Mark Furner said the current outbreaks in Indonesia were causing considerable concern “but industry groups are telling us they have confidence in their biosecurity measures”.

“Queensland has been readying for the risk of a Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak for many years and our strong relationships with key industry stakeholders mean we are well prepared and able to respond as needed,” Mr Furner said.

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