Qld Labor throws farmers under insect invasion bus from the north

Jan 15

Posted by Editor, cairnsnews

The Coen Biosecurity checkpoint located on central Cape York Peninsula, the only land bulwark between Papua New Guinea, Torres Strait and the Far Northern, $600 million horticultural industry, will be closed later this year.

Once an employer of local indigenous biosecurity officers, the state government-controlled centre will be closed down and handed over to local Aborigines who have plans to convert the facility to living quarters and occupy the accommodation units.

Departmental sources confirmed the roadside check point would close, displacing existing staff.

“There are no plans to set up another facility to check vehicles carrying fruit or vegetables south,” the source told Cairns News.

Local Aborigines plan to move into the Coen Biosecurity centre after it is closed later this year

The Wet Tropics region centred on Cairns and Mareeba is one of the most diverse tree cropping districts in Australia. Fruit production increased in the Wet Tropics Natural Resource Management (NRM) region from 250,000 tonnes in 2013–14 to 370,000 tonnes in 2017–18. Mangoes, avocados and bananas are the main fruit crops produced in the region.

Since 2016 South African immigrants and other corporate farmers have descended upon the Mareeba Dimbulah Irrigation Area buying farms and planting large areas of grapes and citrus.

Red-banded mango caterpillar which destroys fruit. The Queensland Labor Party corporation and its local indigenous MP Cynthia Lui will throw farmers under the bus when it closes the Coen Biosecurity facility later this year

Sugar cane cropping is dominant throughout the district supplying the Arriga and Mossman sugar mills.

Closure of the biosecurity facility to the north of this vast irrigation area will leave growers at the mercy of the Red-banded mango caterpillar, black sigatoka banana disease and other insect invaders found in the Torres Strait and PNG.

Tourists often unwittingly bring fruit with them on their return journey south not knowing the threat invasive pests could have on the horticultural industry.

Biosecurity officers at the Coen checkpoint dispose of any fruit found in vehicles that is deemed a threat.

The Labor Minister for Agriculture Mark Furner has been contacted for comment.

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