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Cobb tells Burke to get off his bee-hind.

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Cobb tells Burke to get off his Bee‐hind

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Source: John Cobb MP

Media reports of the discovery in Papua New Guinea of a mutant bee mite which has reportedly wiped out up to half the Papuan honey industry must be taken seriously by the Rudd Government.

The Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, John Cobb today said bees play a hugely important role not only in honey production, but are the main pollinators for many crops. Without bees crop yields would fall dramatically.

“It is a national disgrace the Rudd Government is cutting Government funding to Quarantine and Bio-security programs by $35.877 million next year resulting in the loss of 125 jobs when the Nation was facing the very real prospect of exotic disease and pest incursions.

“Border security has also been compromised by the $58.1 million cut to Customs, which will see the target for inspections of air cargo drop by 4.7 million consignments in the next financial year and slice screenings of sea cargo by 32,500 consignments. Due to Labor’s funding cuts, there will also be 2150 fewer vessels boarded as part of the First Port Boarding regime.

“Under the Rudd Government our border security is starting to look very shaky.

“The media is reporting ‘A formerly harmless species of Varroa mite which lives on Asian honeybees has undergone a genetic mutation allowing it to infest European honeybees, wiping out up to half the Papuan honey industry. Dr Denis Anderson, a bee pathologist with the CSIRO says that, based on past experiences, the mites will be also carrying exotic viral diseases.’

Mr Cobb said the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Primary Industries and Resources, Chaired by Labor MP, Dick Adams, in May 2008 released the report ‘More Than Honey: the future of the Australian honey bee and pollination industries Report of the inquiry into the future development of the Australian honey bee industry.’

“In the foreword written by the Labor Party Chair, Dick Adams it stated;

‘The humble honey bee is one of the most important contributors to the success of Australian agriculture. Many crop and pasture species are heavily or totally reliant on bees for pollination. Commercial prosperity within the agricultural sector requires bees. So does the

food security of Australian and the world.’

‘The potential for pests such as Varroa destructor to annihilate feral bee populations decimate managed bees is real. Keeping such pests and diseases from Australian shores should be a priority for governments and industry. Investment in border security measures and research is vital. In this regard, Australia needs to lift its game. In particular, the Committee strongly recommends the creation of a new honey bee quarantine facility and

increased funding for the National Sentinel Hive Program.’

Mr Cobb said the Committee had made nine recommendations in relation to bee Bio-security.

“In particular the Minister must outline whether a new honey bee quarantine facility is being created and whether the Government has increased funding for the National Sentinel Hive Program.

“The Minister for Agriculture must also outline how many of the recommendations have been adopted by the Government, have they been implemented and what funding has been made available to implement these recommendations in the budget.

Mr Cobb said the Rudd Government must do everything it can to keep the mutated Varroa mite out of Australia.

The reports recommendations can be found at: