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UPDATED: Qld ag minister responds to Vanrook case outcome

James Nason, 28/11/2014

For a few brief hours last Friday the owners of Vanrook and Inkerman Stations in Queensland’s Gulf were celebrating a long-awaited court victory. Earlier that morning Qld’s chief justice Tim Carmody had ruled in their favour that quarantine notices imposed on the two properties following the November 2012 detection of Johne’s Disease at Rockley Stud in Central Queensland were invalid.

The stations had trucks booked ready to move thousands of cattle once the long running quarantine restrictions were lifted in the wake of last Friday’s decision.

However, their reprieve appears to have been short-lived, after the Queensland Government issued a new quarantine notice to the station’s owners late on Friday afternoon.

In a statement to Beef Central earlier on Friday afternoon, Queensland agriculture minister John McVeigh revealed that the Queensland Government had updated the State’s stock regulations to cover all strains of Johne’s disease, including the Bison strain which was at the centre of the Rockley trace-forward and quarantine program.” (Minister McVeigh’s full statement is published below)

Queensland’s stock regulations formerly specificied Bovine Johne’s disease as the “cattle strain” of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, but were changed late last week to expand the definition of Bovine Johne’s disease to include “all strains” of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis. 

The implications of both Justice Carmody’s ruling in favour of Vanrook and Inkerman’s owners, the full details of which are yet to be published, and the changes announced to the State’s stock regulations later that afternoon are still being digested by experts surrounding the issue this morning.

Beef Central will provide further updates as the ramifications of both decisions for producers affected by Johne’s quarantine programs and the broader industry become clearer.

Minister McVeigh’s statement:

In a statement issued to Beef Central last Friday afternoon, Queensland Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry John McVeigh described Chief Justice Tim Carmody’s decision  as a ruling ‘on a technicality’, but said the State’s quarantine regulations had been updated to include all strains of Johne’s Disease

His full statement read as follows:

Until the transcript of the decision is available it’s difficult to comment in any detail.

“I understand the court ruled on a technicality.

“But in any event, the regulation has been updated to remove any doubt that it covers all strains of Johne’s disease, including the Bison strain.

“Queensland is a protected zone for Johne’s disease and the State Government is carrying out the wishes of the vast majority of the beef industry to maintain this status which underpins our access to international markets.

“While I respect the wishes of those may take time-consuming political and legal actions, there are many other producers who have worked with my Department to find a market pathway that leads to a lifting of quarantine as soon as possible.

“For example, Fred Pascoe and the team at Delta Downs, a large indigenous-owned Cape York cattle station, have worked with my Department to find a pathway forward to again market their cattle into the live trade.

“I encourage the relatively small number of properties still under quarantine from the 2012 case to continue to work with my officers in a similar manner.

“Queensland is following the agreed-to national protocols on Johne’s disease to maintain market access.

“For any quarantined property to get back into the live cattle trade to Indonesia, they need to gain Federal government sign-off through AQIS.

“They need the official stamp to satisfy, in this case, our Indonesian customers and Indonesian officials that their cattle pose absolute minimum risk for Johne’s disease.”

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