Calls to safeguard biosecurity

Written By miftah nugraha on Rabu, 08 Mei 2013 | 19.55

TASMANIA needs safeguards for regional differences to protect its valuable brand, say primary producers.

State's producers today delivered powerful submissions to the most far-reaching review of Australian biosecurity law changes in more than a century.

The Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee, chaired by Senator Lin Thorp at Parliament House in Hobart, is considering draft legislation to supersede the Quarantine Act of 1908.

A diverse group of 18 primary producers, the Primary Industry Biosecurity Action Alliance (PIBAA) , formed in 2010, says regional differences must be recognised.

PIBAA spokesman Terry Brient said Australia respects the rights of foreign countries to set regional zones based on quarantine status.

"In Tasmania a primary industry can be the mainstay of a regional community," Mr Brient said.

David Sanderson, from Wine Tasmania, said biosecurity is not about protection of trade.

"The Tasmanian brand is an intergenerational national asset which is under threat without safeguards for regional differences," Mr Sanderson said.

Co-owner and director of Huon Aquaculture Group Frances Bender said biosecurity is the key issue facing all primary industries and the natural environment in Tasmania.

"We are in a special environment that needs to be supported by appropriate mechanisms to protect and keep it safe for future generations," Mrs Bender said.

"Quality is not a minimum standard."

Senator Thorp said there is significant support for reform to bring biosecurity protections into the modern age.

"The resulting legislation will be responsible for protecting primary industries, the environment and local economies from pest and disease risks for many years to come," Senator Thorp said.

The inquiry heard from representatives from Australia's peak vegetable growers group AusVeg, Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, Cherry Growers Australia and Brand Tasmania.

Senators Richard Colbeck and Christine Milne are the other Tasmanians on the eight-person committee. Findings should be passed down in six weeks.

Shadow Minister for Primary Industries Jeremy Rockliff said an updated biosecurity bill is vital to primary industries.

One in six Tasmanian workers is employed directly or indirectly in primary industries with a farm gate value of $1.2 billion.

Find more rural stories in Tasmanian Country, out every Friday.

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