The North Coast Nationals MPs Don Page, Thomas George, Steve Cansdell and Geoff Provest, are calling for a tick crisis meeting following an outbreak of deadly cattle disease in Alstonville and Burringbar this week.
Clarence Nationals MP Steve Cansdell said the meeting should be held in the region’s beef capital Casino as soon as possible.
“We want to include local farmers, the Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald or his representative, Shadow Minister Andrew Fraser and members of the Government’s hand-picked Cattle Tick Advisory Committee,” Mr Cansdell said.
Minister Macdonald this week claimed warnings by the MPs of a looming cattle tick crisis were a case of ‘National Party scaremongering’, but Tweed MP Geoff Provest said the loss of 12 animals to the disease in his electorate this week proved their point.
“The Labor Minister must climb out of the political gutter and do his job, which includes working to prevent farm disease outbreaks,” Mr Provest said.
Lismore Nationals MP Thomas George said current regulations were clearly inadequate to prevent diseased animals from tick-infested parts of Queensland infecting NSW herds.
“Cattle inoculated with the live vaccine can infect non-vaccinated animals they come close to. That is the problem the Government is ignoring,” Mr George said.
Ballina Nationals MP Don Page said a widespread tick fever outbreak would be disastrous for the cattle industry. However, the threat goes beyond cattle producers, as a major outbreak would cause serious damage to the North Coast’s clean green image.
“Our pristine environment gives North Coast tourism operators and many of our cottage industries a competitive edge we simply cannot afford to lose,” Mr Page said.
The Department of Primary Industries said tick fever has been confirmed at a property near Alstonville, with two head of cattle dying from the disease.
“The property near Alstonville has been placed in quarantine and the remaining 51 head of cattle on the property are not showing any signs of the disease,” said NSW Chief Veterinary Officer Bruce Christie.
“NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) regulatory officers found cattle ticks on the stock during an inspection this morning.”
Mr Christie said NSW DPI veterinarian Paul Freeman conducted a post mortem on the two dead animals and tick fever was diagnosed by the Regional Veterinary Laboratory at Wollongbar.
“On Wednesday, tick fever was confirmed in a mob of 28 heifers on a dairy property at Burringbar, near Murwillumbah,” he said.
“Twelve animals have died on the Burringbar property but none since the remainder of the mob were treated with Imizol yesterday.”
Mr Christie said NSW DPI veterinary investigators traced the Alstonville property as it had purchased an entire herd of Dexter cattle from a neighbour of the Burringbar infected property.
“Tracing continues to limit any further spread and identify the origin of the infection,” he said.
“Tick fever is caused by a parasite of red blood cells, and the only thing that can spread the parasite is cattle ticks.”
Stockowners who suspect there stock have cattle ticks or tick fever should contact NSW DPI at Wollongbar on (02) 6626 1201, their private veterinarian, their local Rural Lands Protection Board or the emergency animal disease watch hotline on 1800 675 888.
Brochures to help with the identification of cattle ticks are available from the numbers above or your local NSW DPI office.