The integrity of the Queensland tick line has been seriously jeopardised following revelations livestock have been transported through the Helidon Livestock Inspection Centre in the Lockyer Valley for months without being adequately inspected and treated, and senior Biosecurity Queensland management have failed to provide adequately audited documentation for at least 12 tick control contractors across the state.
Internal government emails, which have been leaked to Queensland Country Life, reveal senior Biosecurity Queensland staff raised serious doubts over the approved status of 12 individual third-party stock inspectors.
According to internal emails, truck drivers had been issuing complaints to the State Government since March this year that stock inspector in charge of the Helidon Centre, Joel McCallum, was allegedly failing to provide a clean inspection and supervised treatment at the Lockyer Valley facility.
Mr McCallum is an employee of third- party provider Livestock Link Pty Ltd, which has operated the Helidon facility since April 21, 2011.
Despite the negligence, Queensland Country Life has obtained several internal government emails which indicate that Mr McCallum could not be charged with breaking stock act regulations after an internal review discovered he did not have stock approval papers from the chief inspector.
As a result, senior biosecurity Queensland management were forced to pass the investigation to the Queensland Police Service, where Mr McCallum eventually faced the lesser charge of "entering false information on a certificate of health relating to stock".
Mr McCallum was officially charged after stock squad detectives conducted surveillance at the Helidon Centre on July 2 and spotted a truck carrying horses arriving at the dip, which left 10 minutes later without the horses being unloaded and properly inspected.
When the truck was stopped by police, the driver was able to produce a signed treated certificate.
Police quickly received a full confession from Mr McCallum that he had not carried out correct procedures and had entered false information on the treated certificate.
Mr McCallum pleaded guilty to the single charge at the Toowoomba Magistrate's Court on August 13 and was fined $2000, with no conviction recorded.
He may have faced a penalty at least 10 times that figure if he had been able to be charged under the stock act.
It is understood Mr McCallum has since been demoted from his position.
However, while the investigation into Mr McCallum was under way, questions were raised within Biosecurity Queensland about the approved status of Mr McCallum, as well as at least 11 other individual third-party stock inspectors, and an effort was quickly made to rectify the issue.
In an email sent from Biosecurity Queensland legislation manager Melissa Cummins to animal biosecurity and welfare director Allison Crook (dated June 26, 2012), Ms Cummins writes: "
As requested, I have reviewed the draft letters to confirm the approval of persons under the Cattle Tick Notice ... I'm assuming that these letters were drafted because there was some doubt about the approved person status of these individuals.
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