07 Jul AG MINISTERS ASLEEP AS CATTLE DISEASES CIRCLE BORDERS
Katter’s Australian Party Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter has warned Australia, and the world, could face a “protein predicament” if State and Federal Governments do not collectively and immediately move to safeguard the nation’s livestock from the biosecurity threats posed by Foot and Mouth and Lumpy Skin diseases.
Recent outbreaks of the two highly contagious disease in Indonesia have put the nation’s meat industry on high alert, with a $80 billion threat posed to the industry by Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) alone.
Mr Katter has warned outbreaks could decimate the agricultural industry, and place unbearable pressure on already tight international food supply chains.
It’s understood the detection of the FMD in Australia would result in an immediate halt to livestock exports and Australian authorities would then be faced with either trying to slaughter or vaccinate the disease out.
Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD), which has never before been detected on Aussie shores, would also result in serious impacts across the live animal trade, and for exporters of dairy products, genetic materials, hides and some meat products.
Mr Katter has called on the Queensland Government to pledge additional funding to control the diseases, calling for immediate investment in vaccine, containment, and surveillance programs.
“There was no mention of these diseases and the need for action in the most recent State Budget, even despite outbreaks being identified in south-east Asia since the start of the year,” Mr Katter said.
“We are seeing astronomical pressure on international food supply chains already, and Australians simply cannot afford to have these diseases arrive on our shores.
“Do we want to be forced to eat fake beef mince or mushroom patties?
“Do we want to send our cattle producers and the rural and regional communities they prop up to the wall?
“These are the logical outcomes of the road we’re on.”
Mr Katter said the new Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt must urgently call a roundtable with all State and Territory Agriculture Ministers to ensure that a comprehensive, nation-wide preventative and control plan was in place.
“We currently have around 25 million head of cattle in the country, almost half of which are in Queensland – this is a Queensland problem more than it is anyone else’s,” he said.
“Queensland Agricultural Minister Mark Furner should be leading the charge on this – the risks weigh heavily on North Queensland, with more than 200,000 head of cattle being exported from the Townsville Port each year. This will all be wiped out following the arrival of these diseases.
“The gross value of beef production in Queensland is more than $6 billion each year, and we export to 66 countries. This is now at immediate risk.”
Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter said Australia’s biosecurity laws were a joke.
“The Government say ‘yes’ to everything and then we suffer the disease and the decimation. Citrus canker did untold damage to the industry here in Mareeba, as did papaya fruit fly, and that black sigatoka, Panama disease and white spot disease continue to do to other industries,” he said.
“The Government are advocating that people in the cities get cheaper food at the expense of the farmers who go out of existence because they can’t compete with these disastrous free-trade ideologies.
“And the person that architected this was the leader of the party I was once in – the National Party – which used to be the Country Party, which used to be the farmers party. But they are now the anti-farmers party and, instead, the free-market party.
“The LNP bureaucrats of the Canberra Government talk about Australia’s ‘clean green’ image when it is hard now to point to a single disease that has not come into Australia as a result of this free-trade regime.
“This underlines the hypocrisy and the gulf between Canberra and the people of Australia – it is not the Canberra cultural cringe, it is a colonial cultural cringe whose inferiority complex would sicken any decent Australian.”