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RTI data proves Minister misled on detector dogs

Data on the number of flights into Tasmanian airports inspected by detector dog teams proves Minister Rockliff has mislead Tasmanians and is placing vital industries and our clean brand at risk.

The data showed that in the months of July – Sept 2015 less than 1/3 of all flights into the state were inspected by detector dog teams despite the Minister telling Tasmanians that ‘Detector dogs are the most effective and efficient way to prevent biosecurity threats entering our state’.

In May 2015 the Minister announced $2 million would be spent to increase the number of detector dog teams from 6 to 9. He claimed “Biosecurity Tasmania will now, for the first time, have the capacity to target 100 per cent of flights at the Launceston and Hobart airports with a detector dog team.”

On 20 October the acting Minister Rene Hidding put out a media statement headed ‘Biosecurity summer ready’ in which he claimed ‘This summer… for the first time, we will have the capacity to target 100 per cent of flights at our major airports with detector dog teams because we have invested $2 million in three additional detector dogs and handlers to protect our island’. He went on to claim Biosecurity was ‘on schedule’ to recruit three new dogs and three new handlers.

The truth is that there is no way Biosecurity Tasmania will have the capacity to inspect all flights into our state with dog teams this summer. It takes between 12 and 24 months to train a detector dog and handler team and barely 2 weeks ago the Minister acknowledged they were still ‘in the process of assessing the suitability of applicants for our specialist dog handlers’ and they had only ‘recruited one puppy’. Summer starts in three weeks.

“There is no wonder our agricultural industries are up in arms because this Minister is placing their livelihoods and investments at risk,” CPSU General Secretary Tom Lynch said.

“Clearly the Minister is either incompetent or has deliberately mislead the community, either way he has again proven he is not up to the responsibility of being our Biosecurity Minister”, Mr Lynch said.

Biosecurity Tasmania staff will begin industrial action in 10 days by banning all overtime.


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