• John Luxton
Associate Minister of Agriculture

The Associate Minister of Agriculture, Hon John Luxton, has decided that there is no need for a board of inquiry into the proposed national pest management strategy (NPMS) for the major honey bee disease American foulbrood. It is only the second NPMS proposal under the Biosecurity Act 1993 to have reached this stage. The first was for bovine Tb.

The Biosecurity Act requires the Minister to decide on the need for an inquiry before he can consider whether to recommend that the strategy be approved. Public submissions opened on 3 July and closed on 14 august. On the basis of submissions received, Mr Luxton has decided there is not sufficient opposition to require a board of inquiry.

Under the Biosecurity Act, a board of inquiry must be appointed unless the Minister is satisfied on reasonable grounds that:

  1. there is no significant opposition on the question of whether to have a strategy; and
  2. there is no significant opposition to the proposed form or content of the strategy.

Mr Luxton said that prior to calling for public submissions, the National Beekeepers' Association (NBA) had conducted full consultation with beekeepers during the development of the proposal. The Minister said he was further satisfied about the adequacy of the consultation process on the notified proposal and the content of submissions.

Fifty submissions were made on the proposed NPMS for AFB. Submissions demonstrated no significant opposition to the need for a strategy, Mr Luxton said.

"While opposition was expressed on significant aspects of the strategy proposal, the extent of opposition was insignificant relative to the total group of people likely to be affected by the strategy", Mr Luxton said. "I am therefore satisfied that there are reasonable grounds why a board of inquiry is unnecessary."

The specific aspects of the strategy proposal which attracted most opposition were: the stated goal of elimination of American foulbrood rather than reduction; the cost of implementing the strategy and a perceived under-estimation of cost; the effectiveness and cost of the Disease Elimination Conformity Agreement in the strategy; and the use of an apiary register.