10 October 2014
The National Management Group (NMG), comprising all Australian governments, Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC), Nursery & Garden Industry Australia (NGIA) and Plant Health Australia, met on 8 October 2014 and unanimously endorsed the National Banana Freckle Response Plan prepared by the Northern Territory in close consultation with industry and governments.
The eradication response is being conducted by the Northern Territory under the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (the Deed). This Deed is the agreement between the Australian Government, all state and territory governments, national plant industry bodies and Plant Health Australia to manage national responses to emergency plant pests.
Acting on advice from the Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests (CCEPP), the NMG agreed that it is technically feasible and cost beneficial to eradicate banana freckle (Phyllosticta cavendishii) from the Northern Territory.
Banana freckle is a serious banana disease. Eradication of banana freckle from Australia will safeguard Australia’s $600 million commercial banana industry as well as the longer-term future of banana growing in the Northern Territory.
Operating under the agreed response plan, final surveillance to confirm successful eradication of banana freckle will commence from April 2017. Quarantine restrictions will be lifted in the Northern Territory once proof of freedom can be demonstrated.
The NMG agreed to the revised response plan, which includes an additional $15.8 million in cost-shared funding over four years. This will take the national, cost-shared investment in the programme to nearly $21 million. The Northern Territory Government has also provided an additional
$4.8 million as part of its normal commitments under the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed.
The revised response plan includes a programme of destruction of host material by zones and targeted surveillance. Recognising that a number of residential properties in the greater Darwin region have been affected by this emergency plant pest, the revised response plan also includes a strong focus on community engagement to assist with the removal of banana plants from residential gardens.
The response plan also provides for compensation for affected commercial banana farms and production nurseries for costs incurred under the response plan. Five commercial businesses have been identified as being potentially eligible for compensation to date.
All Commonwealth, state and territory governments and affected industries are contributing to this nationally significant response. The Australian banana industry, represented by the ABGC will contribute over $10 million towards the eradication of banana freckle. The NGIA will also contribute funding to the response.
The NMG acknowledges that this response has been a truly national effort. All governments across the country have provided in-kind support to the response by sending personnel to act in critical positions within the incident management team, and by providing ongoing scientific and emergency management support to the Northern Territory. The ABGC has also made a valuable contribution through the provision of technical expertise and knowledge of the industry.