War against fruit fly needs heavy artillery

War against fruit fly needs heavy artillery

The Federal Government needs to inject at least $15 million into South Australia to help the state defend itself against a looming fruit fly invasion, according to Rebekha Sharkie the Federal Member for Mayo.

“The new State Government has announced a range of measures to strengthen biosecurity and quarantine measures but without matching investment from the Commonwealth we risk losing our ‘fruit fly free’ status,” Rebekha said.

“The Federal Government needs to at least double the State’s $5 million investment to make a difference to the policing of border crossings by commercial transport as well as travellers and we need millions more for a fumigation and irradiation facility based in South Australia.

"I recently met with the Agricultural Minister David Littleproud, to discuss the fruit fly risk for our state and he recognised that this was an urgent issue that was time critical.

"That meeting was followed up with a letter requesting extra funds. I am yet to receive a formal response which is disappointing, however, I will continue my advocacy.

“The Government could find $20 million for Tasmania for fruit fly controls when there was a major outbreak their state last year. South Australia needs a matching commitment.

“Tasmania is the only other state that is fruit fly free and while its island borders are easier to control, its horticultural exports are valued at $60 million a year compared to South Australia’s annual tally of $243 million.

“Given Victoria has essentially walked away from controlling fruit fly in its state, South Australia is in a precarious situation if we do not act swiftly and decisively.

“We are buffer state for QFly outbreaks in the east and MedFly from the west and reports of fruit fly infestations are on the rise in metropolitan Adelaide, meaning fruit fly is being brought into this state undetected.”

Rebekha is also supporting industry calls for the Federal Government to commit to;

  • A national fruit fly strategy implementing control and eradication measures across SA with the goal to eradicate QFly and MedFly in SA and push MedFly back to WA and QFly back into NSW and Victoria.
  • Measures to push fruit fly back through the Sunraysia and out of Southern Victoria and into NSW and beyond.
  • The eradication of MedFly activity in WA.
  • The establishment of a national Pest Free Area south of an agreed degree of latitude.

Rebekha’s call for Federal investment comes as State Parliament voted yesterday on a motion by SA-BEST MLC Frank Pangallo.

Frank had called on the State Government to work with the Commonwealth to increase biosecurity in South Australia.

In his speech, Frank welcomed the measures the State Government had taken since he first raised the issue in July but said they did “not go far enough”.

“We must avail ourselves of every possible tool to combat an insidious pest and ensure that South Australia retains our enviable reputation of being fruit fly free," Frank said.

“Everyone of us has a responsibility to be part of the defence against fruit fly so over summer when returning from road trips or having family visit from interstate it is imperative to remind family and take personal responsibility for us to follow our strict quarantine rules and look after our fruit farmers.”