‘Silent majority’ supports Biosecurity Qld’s action on Johne’s: McVeigh

Dr John McVeigh, Queensland minister for agriculture, fisheries and forestry, 11/12/2014

In response to questions put to his office by Beef Central about Johne’s Disease policy last week, the Queensland Minister for Agriculture John McVeigh has provided the following statement today:

The Queensland Government, through Biosecurity Queensland, manages pests and diseases for the benefit of our farm industries, the wider community and of course our environment.

Whenever Biosecurity Queensland becomes aware of a disease threat, it is compelled to take actions under state legislation and work with other state and Federal agencies, especially when dealing with pests and diseases of national and trade significance, such as Johne’s disease.

The Queensland Government is committed to maintaining Queensland’s status as a Johne’s disease Protected Zone. This favourable status ensures access to markets and is supported by the overwhelming majority of producers in our multi-billion dollar beef industry.

Queensland is following national protocols for Johne’s disease management, and our industry’s wishes to maintain the state’s low prevalence of the disease. Our strategy is to reduce the risk of bringing new cases of Johne’s disease into Queensland, and prevent the spread of Johne’s disease already present here.

Since the major Johne’s disease outbreak at Bajool, near Rockhampton in 2012 (recognised as the largest yet in Australia), Biosecurity Queensland has worked closely with affected properties to minimise the impacts on business and get them out of quarantine as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

I stress that the overwhelming majority of the initial 170 properties caught up in the 2012 outbreak have worked closely and in a strong cooperative spirit with my Departmental officers and have done so with minimum fuss and public complaint. The silent majority understands that whenever Biosecurity Queensland suspects that Johne’s disease exists, it is obliged to take certain steps, including the serving of quarantine notices.

Readers would be aware of recent court action regarding the quarantining of properties where there is a suspicion of Johne’s infection.

The Supreme Court decision agreed that existing government regulations for Johne’s disease do cover the bison strain. In fact, all strains of Johne’s disease are regulated by the Act. To simplify and provide a more comprehensive approach to Johne’s disease control in Queensland, we have amended the Stock Regulation 1988, to refer broadly to Johne’s disease encompassing all strains.

I point out, we have seen emerging evidence in Australia and overseas that ‘S’ strain can cause disease in cattle. Based on scientific advice and consultation with industry, the Queensland Government has adopted the position that cattle and sheep producers may be at risk of ‘S’ strain Johne’s disease if they acquire cattle from areas and properties where ovine Johne’s disease is common.

Australia’s national Johne’s disease control program does not presently recognise a significant risk of ‘S’ strain to cattle. However, this issue will be addressed when the program is reviewed early next year. Pending the review, the Queensland Government is partnering with industry to provide producers and livestock agents with the information required to make risk-based assessments and management decisions on introducing stock from at-risk Johne’s disease areas as part of a shared responsibility approach to biosecurity.

While there is no legal obligation on the State Government and taxpayers to compensate affected producers, the Queensland Government does not expect individual producers to bear the full cost of protecting the industry.

In addition to the direct costs carried by my Department, for inspections and testing and developing supply chain and direct market alternatives, we have also established a special Johne’s disease assistance program.

This program provides a range of financial assistance measures to producers, and so far, more than $2.6M has been paid out to 98 applicants.

The State Government will continue to work with the 16 producers who remain under quarantine from the original 170 properties identified as being risk from the outbreak at Bajool in 2012.

For further information on Johne’s disease, visit or call 13 25 23.


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  1. Tom Campbell, 06/01/2015

    with an election called the victims of this mess can now have there say . More of the same or get rid of a hostile government that just wants to destroy farm families for no good reason.

  2. John Gunthorpe, 12/12/2014

    It is disappointing that the Minister and his advisers can only respond to your questions with further scare mongering and misinformation. You are correct Alex this was not an “outbreak”. It had been on the property for over 20 years. Only when the owner innocently called in his vet to attend sick animals that the disease was recognised.
    So now we have to wait for the wise men to hand down their review before the Queensland Government can make a decision about the Protection Zone policy. Well the date has been pushed back to January 2016. So all Queensland cattle producers are at risk of another discovery of BJD and their property being quarantined as suspect to BJD. You all stand between continued business in what is being forecast a good year for cattle prices and ruination if you are quarantined. Is this what you expect from your government? Well you have an opportunity to express your opinions in the polls next year.
    If one of the larger bull breeders in southern Australia were to get a positive from their MAP testing, a quarter of the state’s cattle properties could be quarantined. If you want fear and scare mongering then there it is in black and white. And all over a disease that causes minimal production loss, is endemic in USA, Europe and most of our trading partners, is difficult to find with testing and results are inaccurate, cannot be eradicated due to the nature of the disease, causing unnecessary stress on producers and departmental officers and where the government are spending millions of dollars (it will be hundreds of millions if we get another node) and sending producers into bankruptcy in a vain attempt to eradicate the disease. This is a clear case of the Queensland government interfering in matters where they are ill advised to the detriment of the beef industry and wasting taxpayers money.

  3. Alex McDonald, 12/12/2014

    “The Newman government does not expect individual producers to bear the cost of eradication programs that ultimately benefit all in the cattle industry”
    Premier Newman and Minister McVeigh got it exactly right. If this disease is really a threat to the beef and live export industry then the Government and the industry must fully compensate those who through no fault of their own have been financially and emotionally damaged by the way BJD is managed in Queensland. What has happened to the “Qld Biosecurity Fund” promised to be in place by 1 July 2014?
    The largest Johnes Disease outbreak yet in Australia??? Three cows in one herd clinically infected, several healthy cows from this herd found to be infected and several bulls sold from this herd found to be infected. Testing of over 15,000 cows has shown absolutely no evidence of spread of BJD to any other property. It is emotional nonsense to refer to this incident as a disease outbreak, let alone the largest yet in Australia.

  4. Malcolm Cock, 11/12/2014

    The science proves it can not be controlled. Measures to control Johnnes in the south has also proven this …. which leads me to believe that the advisers to Gov’t are more concerned about jobs (vet labs etc) for their mates!

  5. Wallace Gunthorpe, 11/12/2014

    Media release on 18/1/13:
    “The Newman government does not expect individual producers to bear the cost of eradication programs that ultimately benefit all in the cattle industry”
    Very conveniently added in today’s article is the word “full” to totally change the ministers pledge to affected producers.
    This is a disgrace and shows the ministers lack of concern for people damaged by his policy which is endorsed by AgForce.
    How about some honesty and good leadership for a change?
    I have quite a few cases where QDAFF did not act efficiently as the minister claims to get people out of quarantine and actually contributed to the damage done to businesses.
    The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court found the Vanrook quarantine to be illegal and void and found the costs against the government.
    The people supporting this illegal quarantine should show some intestinal fortitude and pay compensation for the damage they have done.
    I wonder if AgForce has a view on their failed policy but we will never know because their silence is deafening !

  6. TIM MCHUGH, 11/12/2014

    These sort of decisions certainly won’t help the LNP at the next election ! For the taxpayers of Queensland to fork out $2.6M plus the running costs defies logic !

  7. Jacqueline Curley, 11/12/2014

    I note the minister now says “silent majority ” instead of the usually stated “vastajority”. A referendum of all individual cattle producers in Queensland on the BJD quarantine legislation will give the silent majority a voice and minister McVeigh will have a true answer to govern with. We do not have BJD and are not in quarantine now but have been savaged by this current policy. Producers have no choice other than to work with the current policy even though it is detrimental to their business

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