THE Federal representative for Tully has called on the Queensland Government to consider eradicating the banana disease, Panama Tropical Race 4, after another detection was confirmed this week.
Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, said the Government should be moving unequivocally and unapologetically to eradicate the disease.
"It is an insult to my intelligence to be told that it cannot be eradicated. We were told that with Black Sigatoka, that it absolutely could not be eradicated," Mr Katter said.
“The Australian Banana Growers Council (ABGC) took a very aggressive position that we should do everything humanly possible to eradicate Black Sigatoka – and we did.
“I am already in contact with the major players in the industry, as well as the new banana growers’ executive.
"The strategic approach of eradication deals realistically with the cost of quarantining, which quite frankly is going to cripple the greater Tully region."
Eradication was not an option according to American professor and plant disease expert, Randy Ploetz, who spoke at the Australian Banana Congress 2017 in Sydney last month.
"Once you have a field infested with this pathogen, whether it's race one or TR4, it's in that field for a very long time," Professor Ploetz said.
"I can't overstate the importance of that. Once you've got an infested field, you can't go back to that field with that same cultivar and expect to produce that cultivar. It's just impossible.
"This problem is really serious. So the fact that you are taking it really serious here in northern Queensland and you've come to grips with it in the Northern Territory, is good because this is probably the most serious disease for bananas.
On Wednesday, Queensland agriculture minister, Bill Byrne, said Biosecurity Queensland would ensure the affected business could continue to operate as seamlessly as possible while minimising the risk to the rest of the industry.
“The owners had already established high standards of biosecurity on their farm and have shown a professional and proactive approach to management of the disease,” he said.
“The effectiveness of the biosecurity measures implemented to date is supported by the knowledge that the latest detection is in close proximity to the first infected property and not in a new production area.
“Thanks to the hard work of government and industry, we have had over two and a half years where we have only had one confirmed infested property.
“We must continue to work together to limit the spread by ensuring the Australian banana industry, with the support of the Queensland Government, implements world’s best practice biosecurity to manage this disease.”
But Mr Katter said he'd been down "that pathway" on numerous occasions.
"It is public servants creating jobs for themselves and saving money as the driving motivation her – not the survival of the banana industry and the greater Tully region," Mr Katter said.
“Let me be quite clear on this, if an area converts from banana growing to sugar growing, it will cut wage incomes almost tenfold.
"The greater Tully community will take the full brunt of this economic disaster.
“I have held my counsel up to date, but I’m not going to be quiet from here on. There needs to be a much more aggressive approach used by farmers if we are to survive in agriculture in Australia.”
Mr Byrne said the banana industry was the cornerstone of far north Queensland’s economy and one of the region’s biggest employers.
"This latest detection does not mean game over, rather it reinforces our ongoing commitment to control and containment of the disease,” he said.
“We see a strong, vibrant industry, community and region into the future."