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Government fails to act on $2 billion quarantine threat.

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Media Release SENATOR KERRY O’BRIEN SHADOW MINISTER FOR PRIMARY INDUSTRIES, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY GOVERNMENT FAILS TO ACT ON $2 BILLION QUARANTINE THREAT Shadow Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Kerry O'Brien, has attacked the Howard Government over its failure to respond to the growing threat to Australia's bee industry. Following a meeting with honey industry representatives in the Victorian town of Beechworth today, Senator O'Brien expressed concern about the massive die-off of honey bees around the world. "It would be a disaster for Australian agriculture if the worldwide bee die-off affected Australia. In the United States up to 25 per cent of the honey bee population has disappeared. "Bees contribute up to $2 billion to the Australian economy, and play a vital role in the fertilisation of many horticulture and crop varieties. "The Howard Government has failed to listen to the concerns of the agriculture industry in relation to this serious quarantine threat. "Unlike the Howard Government, Labor is taking this threat very seriously. "Today I met with Victorian honey industry representatives concerned about the risk presented by Varroa mites "During Budget Estimates I asked the Federal Department of Agriculture what steps it was taking to understand and prepare for this risk. "I was staggered to learn that the Howard Government has taken no steps in response to the worldwide bee die-off. "Labor won't sit on its hands. In Government, Labor will support work necessary to identify and mitigate emerging threats to the Australian bee industry," said Senator O’Brien. 31 July 2007 Contact: Senator Kerry O’Brien 0419 007 780 Martin Breen 0407 435 624