The Federal Government and the prawn industry have reached agreement on a $20 million reimbursement package for farmers affected by the white spot outbreak.
Late last year the disease was found on seven prawn farms on the Logan River, between Brisbane and the Gold Coast in south-east Queensland, and those farms were shut down.
A total of $4 million of the compensation package will eventually be repaid, through a levy that all prawn farmers across Australia will pay.
The terms of the repayment are yet to be determined.
Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the assistance would include the costs of white spot-affected farms being out of action for a season as part of an agreed eradication response plan.
Queensland Government not contributing
Mr Joyce said he was “bitterly disappointed” the Queensland Government had not contributed to the funding package.
“We were expecting them to kick the tin for a further $16 million. They’re not,” he said.
“They’ve come up with a hypothesis that this is a Commonwealth biosecurity issue. There’s no proof of that whatsoever.”
However, Mr Joyce said it was not too late for the State Government to contribute.
“If they wanted to they could reassert what they initially asserted that they would put $16 million towards it, and therefore that would also assist in the area such as wild catch,” he said.
“I know that there are other businesses affected by this outbreak, and call on Minister Byrne to consider how the Queensland Government can better support commercial fishers and businesses impacted by its movement control order.”
The cause of the outbreak remains unknown.
“Neither my department nor Biosecurity Queensland have been able to determine the cause at this point, and there are a number of plausible pathways,” Mr Joyce said.
Queensland Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne has been contacted for comment.