KEY ROLE: Sirromet Wines' Mike Hayes has been appointed the sole Queensland representative on the Australian wine industry biosecurity board.
KEY ROLE: Sirromet Wines' Mike Hayes has been appointed the sole Queensland representative on the Australian wine industry biosecurity board. Contributed

Safe-guarding industry

WITH biosecurity threats on our doorstep, Queensland's sole representative on the national wine industry biosecurity board says a united front is needed to safe-guard the industry.

The Granite Belt's Mike Hayes, from Sirromet Wines, has just been appointed to the role and said they had some big challenges ahead.

"It's such an important thing,” Mr Hayes said.

"The two most important things I see going forward for the survival of the Australian wine industry is addressing biosecurity and climate change and variability.”

He's one of 10 who make up the board but is the lone member from Queensland.

He says they've already got a big task ahead of them, with the Yarra Valley wine region in the midst of a biosecurity catastrophe.

"Just recently we've had another outbreak of phylloxera vastatrix in the Yarra Valley.

"To give you some idea, there's 2700 hectares of vines affected down there right now.”

There's also the Grapevine Pinot Gris Virus which has been impacting wineries in the southern states.

"It has effected quite a few vineyards. Unfortunately, it slipped through and has spread to about another 10-12 grape varieties.

Of gravest concern however, and a potential plague for the Australian wine industry, is Pierce's Disease (Xylella fastidiosa).

Mr Hayes said the disease, if it ever weaselled into the country, would be devastating.

"There's no other better way of letting people understand how bad it is then by saying it is the Ebola of the plant world.

"It can just go through vineyards like wildfire and you're not able to plant again for at least 15 year's.

"It recently hit the south of Spain and effected olives, almonds and grape vines. The thing was brought in on one tiny little botanical ornamental plant from America.

"It is in Asia and it's on our doorstep,” Mr Hayes said.

What's of greatest concern to him is the disease's fondness for tropical plants and climates.

"It can be found on 340 host plants and most of those are tropical and we are the state of tropical foods so it's not far over the hill

"I can't tell you how imperative it is for the security of Australia's food bowl that we keep these things out.

"If you can imagine someone sitting in Langhorne Creek, a few hours south of Adelaide - well to get Pierce's Disease coming from Asia is a lot less of a risk for them then it is for someone on the Granite Belt or South Burnett.

"I fear for some of these other fringe regions in Queensland with their proximities to some of the tropical crops.”

He says he's got the task of being "the eyes and ears for Queensland”.

"I'm always of the firm belief that people getting together and discussing these issues is quite healthy.”

The new board will meet for the first time in Adelaide early July.