Member for Ballina Don Page has called on the Minister for Primary Industries to confirm that the Alstonville Centre for Tropical Horticulture will be retained.

The threat of closure was first made in NSW Labor Government’s 2008 mini budget.

“In the follow-up to that devastating announcement I lodged a petition containing over 1000 signatures supporting the retention of the important research centre,” Mr Page said.

Mr Page sought reassurance from the Minister for Primary Industries in Parliament last week that the Centre for Tropical Horticulture will not be closed.

“Tropical horticulture is the largest agricultural industry on the North Coast contributing hundreds of millions of dollars each year to our economy. The local industry deserves some assurance that the vital research facility will not be lost,” he said.

The research station is currently conducting vital research in areas such as canopy management, plant physiology, soil science and entomology.

“There are 24 people whose employment will be under a cloud if the Minister goes ahead with this short-sighted decision,” he said.

“The research conducted at Alstonville is vital for the ongoing support and growth of the North Coast horticultural industry.” 

The industry includes macadamias, coffee, avocados, blueberries, bananas, passionfruit, low-chill stone fruit and custard apples

Mr Page said that the Government will try to justify the decision by saying the centre will be relocated to Wollongbar.  However, years of research will be lost with the research crops that are currently growing at the Alstonville station.

“My fear is that this cash-strapped NSW Labor Government can see the huge financial gains that could be made by selling off this prime piece of real estate on the Alstonville Plateau,” he said.

“I call on the Minister for Primary Industries to confirm that the Alstonville Centre for Tropical Horticulture will remain open.”