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John Cobb the biggest risk to Australia's biosecurity.

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The Hon. Tony Burke MP

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

John Cobb the biggest risk to Australia's biosecurity

10 June 2009 DAFF09/272B

In another National Party blunder, Opposition agriculture spokesman John Cobb has demanded to know about funding which was publicly announced by the Government seven months ago.

Mr Cobb referred to media reports about the discovery of the Varroa mite in Papua New Guinea and asked “whether the Government has increased funding for the National Sentinel Hive Program”.

On 4 November last year, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke announced $300,000 over two years to continue the surveillance program.

The media release is available at

The program was established in 2000 at 27 sea ports around the country to help monitor for honey bee parasites and exotic bees which could devastate the local industry.

ABARE figures show there were more than 1,700 commercial beekeepers in Australia in 2006-07.

Bees are also crucial for pollinating horticultural crops, pastures, fodder and some broadacre crops.

Mr Burke is in Brisbane to meet with ministers from Papua New Guinea as part of the Australia Papua New Guinea Ministerial Forums.

The agenda includes bilateral discussions on the containment program to tackle the Varroa mite.

“It’s no wonder the Liberals in rural seats are sick of the agriculture shadow portfolio automatically going to the National Party,” Mr Burke said.

“John Cobb wants to comment on biosecurity in the honey bee industry, but he’s embarrassed himself by calling for funding which the Rudd Government announced seven months ago.”