Media Releases


February 21, 2018

A leaked Tasmanian Government Question Time Brief has revealed Barnaby Joyce cut Tasmania’s biosecurity funding.

Federal Member for Braddon Justine Keay said, “The documents state “There have been some staff reductions across the large organisation that is Biosecurity Tasmania, primarily due to reductions in Federal funding for providing Commonwealth biosecurity services.”

 The Question Time Brief was silent on what action, if any, the Tasmanian Liberals took to stand up for Tasmania.

 “The Premier needs to come clean on how much was cut, what services were cut and what action his government took to restore the Commonwealth funding?

 “Or, did he like on every other occasion just roll over to the Abbott/Turnbull Government with barely a whimper?

 “We already know the State Liberals cut a million dollars from Tasmania’s biosecurity budget in their first year.

 “Under the Liberals we have seen Norwegian salmon on supermarket shelves, blueberry rust, pacific oyster mortality syndrome and now a fruit fly emergency.

 “The situation is getting worse by the day with discovery of five adult fruit fly at George Town.

 “Even now in the middle of a deepening crisis, passengers and vehicles are arriving in Tasmania without any checks.

 “The situation has been compounded with Biosecurity staff potentially being poisoned through a fumigation process.

 “With that process suspended, farmers in the control zone are unable to sell product.

 Labor Senator for Tasmania Anne Urquhart said “Last week in Question Time the Turnbull Government confirmed it cut Federal funding to Biosecurity Tasmania because efficiencies had been identified.

 “The Minister said they seek out efficiencies so they can spend more on biosecurity as well.

 “But the Turnbull Government has committed no extra funding to Biosecurity Tasmania and does not appear interested in providing a joint Commonwealth-State response to this emergency.

 “I will use next week’s Senate Estimates hearings to question the Turnbull Government on their cuts to Biosecurity Tasmania by Barnaby Joyce and what joint planning has taken place to deal with a Tasmania fruit fly outbreak.

 “Tasmania’s status as being relatively pest and disease free has been compromised by State and Federal Liberals cuts to biosecurity.

 “Farmers are being forced to dump fruit, they are locked out of export markets and it seems Biosecurity Tasmania has been ill prepared for a fruit fly incursion.

 “It appears there has been no preparatory planning work to deal with a fruit fly outbreak.

 “The whole situation is a catastrophic failure and the Premier needs to explain why it has come to this!”