Prawn farmers and industry to share in additional $20 million assistance
The Coalition Government is delivering additional assistance of up to $20 million for Queensland prawn farmers affected by the recent outbreak of White Spot Disease.
Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said that the assistance would cover owner reimbursement costs for prawn farmers affected by the outbreak, including the costs of their farms being out of action for a season as part of an agreed eradication response plan.
"I met with prawn farmers in February, and since then I’ve worked hard with the Australian Prawn Farmers Association (APFA) to deliver a comprehensive range of support that meets the needs of the industry,” Minister Joyce said.
“This additional funding of $20 million will be delivered directly to the prawn industry, with $4 million to be repaid by prawn farmers through an industry levy once affected producers are back on their feet.
“This is consistent with the approach taken with every other industry in arrangements of this type and I thank the APFA for their engagement so far.
The Coalition Government approached Queensland in December 2016 about participating in this arrangement and has tried to engage in good faith negotiations, however, Queensland advised last week that it would not participate.
“I do not want to see any further delays in getting assistance on the ground where it’s needed, so we will now be fast tracking the delivery of $20 million in assistance directly to the prawn farming industry,” Minister Joyce said.
“We will be working to ensure that the Coalition Government’s funding gets to where it’s needed as quickly as possible.
“This additional $20 million in funding is on top of $1.74 million in emergency assistance already announced to date by the Coalition Government to those affected, including $1.3 million to the Queensland Government to assist with its response costs.
“Neither my department nor Biosecurity Queensland have been able to determine the cause of the outbreak at this point, and there are a number of plausible pathways. The results of genetic sequencing being undertaken may shed more light on the possible origins of the outbreak.
“Irrespective of the cause, this government has been committed to working with the industry to contain and eradicate this biosecurity threat, and to support those farmers that have been affected by the disease.
“I know that there are other businesses affected by this outbreak and call on Minister Byrne to consider how the Queensland Government can better support commercial fishers and businesses impacted by its Movement Control Order.”