Department of Agriculture plans $300m mega pound

By Julian Bajkowski

Key details of a massive new $293 million national quarantine facility that the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests plans to build in Mickleham, Victoria have been revealed to Parliament.

Evidence provided by The Department of Finance to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works reveals that new high-tech isolation ark will contain compounds for dogs, cats, birds, fertile eggs, bees, horses, ruminants and plants.

The new DAFF mega-pound will consolidate five ageing facilities in different parts of Australia into one centralised facility.

According to Finance, the project has been necessitated by DAFF’s existing five facilities ending between 2015 and 2018 “with no opportunity for lease extensions in the medium term.”

The new facility is anticipated to come online in stages as the others are retired.

“New Post Entry Quarantine facilities and infrastructure are required that satisfy contemporary quarantine standards and meet future demands, in particular for high risk species,” Finance said in its evidence.

“A single, consolidated facility was determined to be the best option to respond to this need.”

The location of the central pound is a challenge for government because any site needs to be relatively close to an airport but sufficiently isolated to contain potential infection risks.

At the same time, the menagerie of presumably noisy and lonely critters has to be located far enough away from residential areas so that people can sleep at night, even if the animals don’t.

“Acoustic separation distances have been considered for the location of the dog compound which represents the highest noise source once the new PEQ facilities are operational,” Finance said.

Details of the facility reveal it will have enough room to (separately) shelter 240 cats, 400 dogs and 80 horses as well as six ‘flight rooms’  for bees and paddocks for alpacas.

Finance expects that “an average of 350 people will be employed during the construction phase” of facility with “with up to 140 DAFF and industry staff and contractors employed at the site during peak operational periods.”

The new facility is located on former farmland purchased by the Commonwealth in the City of Hume local government area.

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