More biosecurity funding needed to battle wave of illegal imports
19 February 2020
Citrus Australia urges the Federal Government to increase its investment in border biosecurity following the interception of fresh limes and dried citrus infected with citrus canker.
Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock thanked the biosecurity officers on duty for their vigilance.
“We appreciate the hard work of those at our border and appreciate their efforts to protect our industry and the community’s backyard citrus,” Mr Hancock said.
Citrus canker was most recently detected in Australia in 2018 and is expected to be eradicated by the end of this year at a cost of $18.7 million.
Although not harmful to humans, citrus canker kills citrus trees. If brought into Australia, it would decimate the Australian industry and lead to the destruction of millions of backyard citrus trees.
Last year, more than 12,000 citrus items (almost 33 items each day) were intercepted at Australia’s international airports. Any one of these items could have posed a serious risk.
With the rapid increase in tourism, Mr Hancock said biosecurity funding needed to be increased accordingly.
“We commend the professionalism of Australia’s biosecurity officers and detector dogs, and they should be supported with additional resources,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the importance of biosecurity is being ignored by too many travellers and we need to bolster our capabilities to weed them out.”
Mr Hancock said Citrus Australia was pleased with the Government’s recent decisions to cancel visas of those attempting to smuggle illegal products into Australia.
“We hope that this message has been heard by those in other countries considering similar acts. Our national agriculture industry, and the billions of dollars it contributes to the economy and jobs it creates in regional and rural areas, cannot be put at risk.”
Citrus Australia CEO, Nathan Hancock, is available for interview and can be contacted on 0429 772 181 or Nathan.Hancock@citrusaustralia.com.au