Axing vet lab won’t hurt north: Queensland government
The state government insists its move to axe a planned new biosecurity laboratory in north Queensland won’t leave the region vulnerable to Hendra virus and bird flu.
THE state government insists its move to axe a planned new biosecurity laboratory in north Queensland won’t leave the region vulnerable to Hendra virus and bird flu.
The $18 million laboratory intended for James Cook University’s Townsville campus is the latest victim of the Liberal National Party (LNP) government’s cost-cutting drive.
The former Labor government announced the facility last year as a replacement for Townsville’s ageing biosecurity laboratory at Oonoonba.
At the time Labor said the new laboratory would improve the region’s ability to respond to disease threats.
But university staff were told on Tuesday (Tuesday) it would not be going ahead because there was not enough money in the state’s coffers.
The opposition says it’s another example of the “Brisbane-centric” Newman government “picking on” north Queensland.
Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mulherin says the state government has already closed the existing biosecurity laboratory at Townsville.
Axing the new facility will leave north Queensland exposed to threats such as Hendra virus and avian influenza (bird flu), he said.
“The Newman government is leaving north Queensland with no capacity to diagnose these devastating diseases,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
But Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry John McVeigh says the decision posed no additional risk to agriculture in far north Queensland.
Mr McVeigh says tests for major animal diseases are done in Brisbane.
The state government was going ahead with a $42 million tropical health facility at James Cook University, he added.
That facility will focus on tropical human diseases such as dengue fever.
Mr McVeigh blamed the Labor government for failing to budget for the projects it promised.
“If they’d been able to balance the books better, then we wouldn’t be in in this mess,” he said in a statement.