​Media Release

Australian Government joins Queensland’s Panama disease taskforce ​

16 April 2015

The Australian Government is joining Queensland’s emergency response efforts as a member on the Panama disease Tropical Race 4 Response and Resilience Taskforce.
Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the Australian Government is providing high level support, with Department of Agriculture​ First Assistant Secretary, Ian Thompson joining the Taskforce, which is meeting for the first time next week.
“Ian is a senior public servant, and as First Assistant Secretary for the Sustainability & Biosecurity Policy Division he is responsible for the department’s support to Queensland on this issue,” Minister Joyce said.
“The taskforce will help support Northern Queensland communities dealing with the economic and social impacts of this disease.
“Panama disease Tropical Race 4 is a very serious threat to the Queensland banana industry and a coordinated response across governments and industry is vitally important.
“My department is working closely with the Queensland Government to ensure that the emergency response supports the local industry.”
The Australian Government has already delivered $230,000 through the Stronger Biosecurity and Quarantine Initiative to support Queensland and the industry. This provides diagnostic equipment, signage and engaging two international experts to further assist industry and the national response to the disease. The initiative is also providing specialist field personnel from the department and other jurisdictions to supplement Queensland resources.
Panama disease is considered to be one of the most destructive diseases of banana. It is spread by soil and water, and with movement of infected planting material. Panama disease Tropical race 4 is present in South East Asia and the Northern Territory.
Panama disease poses no threat to human health.