Nats call for crisis meeting on tick fever

FOUR North Coast National Party politicians have called for an urgent crisis meeting to discuss the spreading tick fever outbreak which threatens the region's dairy and beef cattle industries.

The four, MPs Geoff Provest in the electorate of Tweed, Thomas George (Lismore), Don Page (Ballina) and Steve Cansdell (Clarence) are calling for a tick-crisis meeting following the deaths of a dozen heifers on a Burringbar dairy farm last week and the spread of the outbreak to a property at Alstonville, west of Ballina, where at least another two cows have died.

Mr Cansdell, whose electorate covers the "beef capital" of Casino, said the meeting should be held there as soon as possible.

"We want to include local farmers, the Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald or his representative, shadow minister Andrew Fraser and members of the government's hand-picked Cattle Tick Advisory Committee," Mr Cansdell said.

Lismore Nationals MP Thomas George said current regulations were clearly inadequate to prevent diseased animals from tick-infested parts of Queensland infecting NSW herds.

He blamed a "live" vaccine used in Queensland to control tick fever which is widespread in coastal areas of the state for its transmission on cattle sent over the NSW border.

"Cattle inoculated with the live vaccine can infect non-vaccinated animals they come close to. That is the problem the government is ignoring," Mr George said. Ballina Nationals MP Don Page said a widespread tick-fever outbreak would be disastrous for the cattle industry.

He said the threat went beyond cattle producers, as a major outbreak would cause serious damage to the North Coast's clean green image.

"Our pristine environment gives North Coast tourism operators and many of our cottage industries a competitive edge we simply cannot afford to lose," Mr Page said.

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