26/05/2006 - 08:29

WA Govt to protect agriculture with $41m commitment

26/05/2006 - 08:29

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The Carpenter Government has moved to protect Western Australia's natural environment and valuable agricultural industries with a $41 million commitment to biosecurity activities.

WA Govt to protect agriculture with $41m commitment

The Carpenter Government has moved to protect Western Australia's natural environment and valuable agricultural industries with a $41million commitment to biosecurity activities.

Agriculture and Food Minister Kim Chance said the increased operational funding was in addition to the State Government's backing for a Biosecurity Centre of Excellence to be established at the Agriculture Department's new headquarters.

"The co-location of the department's core biosecurity resources will create Australia's pre-eminent biosecurity centre of excellence - both in terms of integrated capacity and clear leadership in innovation," Mr Chance said.

The State's biosecurity funding includes $4.7million over two years to combat European House Borer - a destructive pest of untreated pine.

A further $500,000 has been set aside for increasing public awareness and community reporting of biosecurity risks such as European wasps and starlings, with extra staffing for the department's Pest and Diseases Information Call Centre.

The Minister said $500,000 had also been allocated to implement the new Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Bill covering public communications, development of regulations, specialised information and training packages.

"The new Act will replace 17 existing Acts and will usher in a new era for biosecurity in WA at a time when there is pressure from international markets for suppliers to demonstrate freedom from pests and diseases," he said.

"Greater levels of world trade mean we have to be ever more vigilant to prevent the arrival in WA of pests and diseases which could threaten our lifestyle and agriculture sector.

"In addition to protecting WA's unique natural environment, this support for biosecurity will boost market potential for our growers."

Mr Chance said more than $4million would be spent on operating effective quarantine checkpoints at entry points into WA, such as Eucla and Kununurra road checkpoints, Perth domestic and regional airports and disembarkation points for interstate rail and shipping.

Freight surveillance programs would be enhanced at road, rail and sea cargo depots, together with the development of a freight declaration system, surveillance of freight and cargo depots including post and parcel freight, and implementation of import accreditation schemes.

Another $250,000 would be used to establish a core Emergency Response Unit able to strengthen the State's generic emergency management capacity for biosecurity pest outbreaks, fires, floods and other rural emergencies.

Mr Chance said additional resources would be allocated to eradicate serious pest incursions such as starling infestations on the south coast, before the populations become too well established for eradication to be considered practical.

He said increased funding of $900,000 would enhance animal biosecurity in WA coming on top of an extra $300,000 provided to the program in both 2004-05 and 2005-06.

The new funds would be applied to key initiatives including:
- development of key roles and responsibilities to prepare for emergency animal diseases, especially foot and mouth disease and Avian influenza;
- a communication program and information packages on Avian influenza for poultry owners, bird keepers and the general public;
- workshops for private veterinary practitioners and livestock industry representatives to prepare for an emergency animal disease incident;
- development of livestock industry specific biosecurity and emergency incident communication plans;
- development of farm level biosecurity plans to help producers manage their own biosecurity risks and reduce the State's overall biosecurity risk;
- maintaining diagnostic capability to ensure prompt and accurate diagnosis of animal diseases especially new and emerging diseases; and
- refining existing Codes of Practice for Animal Welfare and develop Animal Welfare Standards with industry.

 

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