Biosecurity cuts will cost more in big picture: scientist
CLOSING down north Queensland's main biosecurity lab could put the region's food production at risk and cost taxpayers millions of dollars to move the same services to Brisbane, a scientist says.
The State Government last week decided to close the Biosecurity Queensland Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Oonoonba, near Townsville, instead of going ahead with Labor’s plans to build a new state-of-the-art $18 million facility at James Cook University.
Molecular biologist at the laboratory Kelly Condon said there would be substantial costs to move the services to Brisbane and would delay crucial testing of diseases which could damage the region’s livestock and aquaculture industries.
The lab at Coopers Plains (in Brisbane) is basically at capacity already and it won’t be able to handle the extra workload,” she said.
“The number of tests done at (the Townsville-based lab) is almost half of what is already done in Brisbane.
“There would need to be significant renovations at Coopers Plains to make room for any significant number of staff to be sent down.
“But no one from the State Government has told staff how many of us will be offered positions down in Brisbane.''
Mrs Condon said livestock and aquaculture industries were most at threat.
“We are talking multi-billion dollar industries that are being put at risk to save about $20 million from not building the new lab at JCU,” she said.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry John McVeigh said, in a written statement, testing was already largely done out of Brisbane and other national facilities, and the closure of the Townsville laboratory would not create risks for north Queensland industries.
NEW CAIRNS.COM.AU COMMENT POLICY
We welcome your comments on this story. Comments are submitted for possible publication on the condition that they may be edited. Comments submitted without a full name and suburb/location will not be considered for publication. Please read our full comment policy and publication guidelines.
Share this article
No risk: Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry John McVeigh said the closure of Townsville's biosecurity diagnostic laboratory.