A plant disease currently not present in Australia has been detected an illegal import of citrus budwood.
Citrus greening disease, known as huanglongbing, renders fruit inedible and eventually kills trees. There is currently no cure, making its detection a significant find.
“Citrus Australia is thankful that the recent interception of citrus material by biosecurity staff at Brisbane airport has prevented Huanglongbing entering Australia,” said CEO of Citrus Australia, Nathan Hancock.
“We are grateful for the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources staff who have made this detection, it has prevented the entry of a devastating citrus disease into the country.”
Last year, Australia’s total citrus exports totalled AU$460m (US$340m).
“The citrus industry supports a huge number of regional and rural families and businesses and contributes a significant amount to the Australian economy,” said Hancock.
The Australian government today also announced an additional AU$137.8m (US$100m) toward national biosecurity.
Of that, $36.5 million will be allocated for a team of biosecurity analytics specialists to help determine which passengers, countries and imports are likely to bring in pests and diseases.
AU$35m (US$26m) will be set aside as contingency funding should there be an incursion, and AU$7.6m (US$5.6m) will fund a environmental protection officer and staff members who will work within the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.