10 May 2023

Traditional Owners likely to take over Coen biosecurity facility

| Matt Nicholls
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THE state government appears likely to hand the keys to the Cape York Biosecurity Centre to local Traditional Owners, with no plans to keep a permanent biosecurity presence.

Cape York Weekly can reveal the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has been in talks with the Cape York Land Council about giving the facility to Traditional Owners when it shuts down, which could be in a matter of months.

These secret discussions have been ongoing since last year.

DAF says it is committed to biosecurity in the Far North, but through different methods.

“In late 2018, Biosecurity Queensland established the Far Northern Biosecurity Initiative to better address the critical role the Torres Strait and Cape York Peninsula area play in mitigating biosecurity risks to Queensland and Australia,” a spokesperson said last week.

“The FNBI is changing the way biosecurity services are delivered in the region, allowing more efficient and effective management of the risks of pests and diseases moving both north and south.

“The second phase of the FNBI project is about to commence with the recent announcement of additional emergency animal disease preparedness funding by the Queensland government. Additional resources will build on the capacity of both DAF and local partners to detect biosecurity threats and respond in a timely manner.

“As part of the Cape York Biosecurity Centre review process, Biosecurity Queensland recently commenced consultations with broad range of stakeholders.

“That process is ongoing and will be vital in framing strategy development and future investment in biosecurity in Far Northern Queensland.

“The Cape York United one claim, which includes the land the CYBC is located on, is a separate process from the CYBC review which commenced prior to DAF becoming aware of the claim.

“DAF is working with Traditional Owners to work through the claim process.

“The process is ongoing and, out of respect for the process, further comment at this stage is not appropriate.”

Cape York Weeklyspoke to one Traditional Owner last week who was in support of the facility being handed back.

However, he also believed the region should maintain a strong biosecurity presence.

“That’s something we can do in collaboration with the state government,” he said.

“We can upskill our own people to do the job.”

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