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Quarantine cuts place state at risk

Cuts to Tasmania’s quarantine barrier is placing our burgeoning agriculture and aquaculture industries at risk and threatening our clean, green brand.

The recent restructure of Biosecurity Tasmania has seen a further reduction of three Quarantine staff at the East Devonport Ferry Terminal, an overall reduction of more than 10 full-time equivalent positions over the past eight years.

“The Hodgman government proudly announces record numbers of visitors arriving in Devonport on the Spirit of Tasmania while at the same time cutting the staff at the barrier whose role it is to ensure pests and diseases don’t enter the state”, CPSU General Secretary Tom Lynch said.

“The recent outbreak of the exotic fungus myrtle rust shows how vulnerable our state is to pests and diseases and our only defense is a well-trained and resourced quarantine barrier”, Mr Lynch said

Quarantine staff report to the CPSU that their capacity to check shipments arriving to the state are limited because of staff reductions. This means more consignments are allowed through with just the paperwork, rather than the actual materials, being checked.

“Cuts have resulted in a system with a higher appetite for risk and a greater focus on addressing outbreaks after they are established rather than stopping them from entering the state,” Mr Lynch said.

“Tasmania has invested its future in our burgeoning agriculture and aquaculture industries and selling into markets attracted to our clean and healthy brand. All this could be undermined by the introduction of pests and diseases,” Mr Lynch said.

“The government’s rhetoric that it has increased resources for Quarantine is all spin. It has merged the Invasive Species Unit with Quarantine and called that an increase in Quarantine numbers. In reality there are now fewer staff doing that work,” Mr Lynch said.

 

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