Citrus budwood bust in Brisbane
A BRISBANE airport passenger who works in the horticulture industry has been caught trying to smuggle citrus budwood into the country.
Federal biosecurity officers caught the Australian traveller with cumquat budwood hidden in the inner tubing of a tyre.
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ head of plant biosecurity Marion Healy said the passenger did not declare the plant material and would now be subjected to further enforcement action.
“This was a direct attempt to try and circumvent our biosecurity system and another example of the work undertaken by our officers on the frontline to manage that risk,” she said.
A tyre with an inner tube that was secured with tape was found in the traveller’s luggage during a routine inspection.
Biosecurity officers removed the tape and inner tyre and found a single budwood stick, which was later identified as cumquat.
Citrus Australia chief executive Nathan Hancock
This was direct attempt to try and circumvent our biosecurity system.
— Marion Healy
said illegally imported citrus material could bring disease that was not apparent to the naked eye, viruses that cause premature tree death or stunted tree growth.
“Bacterial disease such as citrus canker and huanglongbing could arrive in Australia this way,” Mr Hancock said.
Dr Healy warned that incorrectly importing plant material into Australia risked bringing in pests and diseases that could threaten the nation’s horticulture industries and market access.
The last outbreak of citrus canker at Emerald in Queensland 13 years ago led to the destruction of half a million citrus trees.
“The fact this passenger has put his own industry at risk is unbelievable and disappointing,” she said.