Holding the tick line
A STRIP of barbed wire and a few timber palings scattered on the ground is all that officially separates tick-free and infected country at Boondooma, north of Wondai.
In what is becoming a familiar story in rural Queensland, a handful of producers are being forced to shoulder increased time and financial costs to maintain the integrity of the tick line amid growing State Government biosecurity service cut backs.
The Boondooma region has not had a locally-based stock inspector for more than two years.
Two other frontline biosecurity officers in the region were among 21 workers across the state to accept voluntary separation packages by the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) last year.
It has not yet been announced if they will be replaced as stock inspectors for the area.
Government cut backs have also seen the operating times at the Boondooma Clearing Facility drastically reduced in recent months to nine hours per week.
Needless to say, there is growing concern among producers over the State Government’s commitment to reducing the spread of the external parasite.
Complacency is a costly exercise - in northern Australia, predominantly Queensland, livestock losses due to ticks amount to more than $200 million each year.
Tired of ongoing Biosecurity Queensland cut backs and bureaucratic bungling threatening the integrity of the tick line they worked hard to initiate, producers from across the region have joined forces to drive a grassroots campaign to demand urgent government action.
The groups have called for whoever wins government at the weekend to commit to resuming government responsibility as the legal authority in maintaining the integrity of the tick line through increased service funding and enforcing penalties for those who breach the rules.
However, it is the repairing the official placement of the line which many producers believe needs immediate attention.
About two decades ago, a concerted landholder-led eradication program saw 1100 properties in the South Burnett become tick free and the line officially moved northwards.