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Minister needs to release info to industry

Minister needs to release info to industry

The Minister for Biosecurity has confirmed he has been sitting on report tracing the outbreak of the cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis since December last year, National’s Spokesperson for Biosecurity Nathan Guy says.

“There is a high degree of concern in rural communities about the cattle disease and they deserved for the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) report to have been public last year.

“It would have helped keep farmers and industry informed throughout the summer, instead of receiving the necessary information four months after the Minister received it.

“In Parliament this week I challenged Damien O’Connor to release the tracing pathway report - miraculously on Wednesday, MPI publicly released it. The timing seems rather ironic to me.

“Alongside this, the public is still awaiting the release of a review of NAIT, the National Animal Identification and Tracking system, which was due in December and plays a critical role in tracing animal movements, and is especially important during times of an outbreak.

“The Prime Minister’s Speech from the Throne earlier this year talked up the new Coalition Government as being ‘a transparent and open Government’, yet keeping documents of significant public interest locked away for months signals otherwise.

“To make matters worse, the TAG raised concerns only last month about a lack of capacity within MPI to complete tracing visits on time, despite the Minister saying he will make sure MPI has the resources to do the job properly.

“When the Minister was asked on Thursday if he would commit to fully eradicating Mycoplasma Bovis, he would only confirm funding had been set aside for the initial stages.

“Despite the TAG report being inconclusive as to how the disease arrived here, I’m heartened to see that MPI has conducted three warranted searches that may be related to imported biological animal health products.

“Providing enough solid evidence can be gathered, the full force of law should be used on any individual or business that has illegally imported any products that have put at risk our cattle industries and the many livelihoods that rely on them.

“In future the Minister needs to be more upfront with farmers and not withhold important information from them,” Mr Guy says.

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