Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh yesterday reaffirmed the Coalition Government’s strong record of improving Victoria’s biosecurity capacity.
“Biosecurity is a critical priority for the Victorian Coalition Government because we know that it underpins and protects our $12 billion agricultural industry. Victoria’s animal health and biosecurity systems meet and exceed international standards. Suggestions of deficiency in Victoria’s service capacity or ability to respond to major incidents are flatly rejected, Mr Walsh said in a media release.
“Under Coalition leadership, senior specialist roles of Chief Plant Health Officer and Chief Biosecurity Officer have been created to work alongside the Chief Veterinary Officer. The Coalition Government has led the nation by making significant investment in technology adoption like electronic identification for sheep and goats which offers greater protection to livestock industries in the event of exotic disease outbreaks like foot and mouth disease.”
Mr Walsh said the Coalition Government has been working closely with individual sectors on biosecurity needs, and has already struck a deal with industry representatives to create a new specialist pig health unit within the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI).
He said that the Victorian Coalition Government was planning to invest $420,000 to upgrade infrastructure at Bendigo and boost staff from 4.4 FTE to 10 FTE, including recruiting a specialist pig health veterinarian.
Mr Walsh said the Labor’s plan to abolish the DEPI was a clear risk for Victorian agriculture.
“Daniel Andrews and Labor fail to understand agriculture and they fail to understand the rural and regional communities whose economies are underpinned by primary production. The successful creation of DEPI has received wide accolades from the grassroots of farmers and communities, but the same Labor MPs who thought the North-South Pipeline was a good idea want to wreck the good work,” Mr Walsh said.
“With DEPI now regionally focused there is increased surge capacity to better manage local incidents, including biosecurity and animal welfare matters, and this was proven with widespread praise from landowners for DEPI’s animal welfare response teams during last summer’s bushfires.”