The fight to prevent the closure of the Tropical Horticultural Research Centre at Alstonville continues.

Member for Ballina Don Page has lodged in the NSW Parliament petitions containing well over 1000 signatures in support of retaining the centre.

“I call on the NSW Labor Government to take note of the strong community opposition to their decision to close the Horticulture Research Centre,” Mr Page said.

“The NSW Labor Government should reverse their short-sighted decision made in their mini-budget late last year.

“This Horticultural Research Centre provides a vital service to our horticulture industries including the macadamia, blueberry, coffee, bananas, avocados, passionfruit, low-chill stone fruit and custard apples industries.”

Mr Page said important research is being conducted at the Centre including canopy management and growing systems, research for horticultural crops and development of integrated pest and disease management programs for horticulture.

“Horticulture is a critical activity in our region which contributes hundreds of millions of dollars each year to our economy, employs hundreds of people, and helps guarantee our food supply both now and into the future,” he said.

“The centre currently employs 23 staff, seven professional and 16 support staff. The valuable land was compulsorily acquired by the NSW Government in 1951 from local dairy farmers for the purpose of tropical fruit research.

“I call on the Minister for Primary Industries to reverse the mini-budget decision to close the Horticultural Research Centre in the interests of our horticulture industries.

“It is clear from these petitions there is tremendous support for the Tropical Horticulture Research Centre and widespread opposition to its closure.”