Legislative Council: Thursday, July 07, 2022


Fruit Fly

The Hon. J.E. HANSON (15:16): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Will the minister update the council on the latest strategy in tackling fruit fly in the Riverland?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:16): I thank the honourable member for his question and ongoing interest in our regional areas. The state government is constantly looking at different ways to tackle the ongoing fruit fly outbreaks that we are experiencing in the Riverland. As members would be aware, some of those are large approaches such as the additional $13 million as part of the recent state budget for fruit fly eradication programs.

The government continues to look at other ways in which we can increase the awareness of fruit fly and the need to maintain fruit trees appropriately. On Monday, I had the opportunity to meet with Janelle from Waikerie Wills & Co Mitre 10 to deliver 1,000 fruit tree tags, which will be attached to fruit trees in the nursery and will educate consumers about the fruit fly pest and what steps can be taken to ensure fruit trees are appropriately maintained. As a backyard grower herself, Janelle was very pleased to see the tree tag initiative and welcomed the educational support for Riverland residents.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regions started rolling out these tags in metropolitan Adelaide last year and have now started adding these tree tags, the 'Look after me' tree tags, in several locations in the Riverland. These tags remind backyard producers to pick their fruit as soon as it is ripe, to collect and dispose of any fruit on the ground under trees, and to check their produce for blemishes and maggots.

The tags were initially rolled out to independent nurseries and garden centres with assistance from the Nursery and Garden Industry South Australia. I would like to thank that industry association for their assistance in this. It is wonderful to now see stores such as Mitre 10 and Bunnings, along with other nurseries in the Riverland, get involved in providing a simple but crucial piece of information to customers and residents of the Riverland.

It is critical that there is continued collaboration between government, industry and our community to educate people about the importance of maintaining their backyards. The horticulture industry in South Australia is worth $1.3 billion and provides thousands of jobs in South Australia, and we cannot leave any stone unturned in the continued fight against fruit fly and towards our goal of complete fruit fly eradication.

We know that Riverland residents who have fruit trees in their backyards need to pick the ripe fruit and vegetables promptly. They need to collect fallen fruit and ensure that it is not buried or composted. They need to check the fruit for blemishes and maggots, and then call the fruit fly hotline if they suspect they have the pest on their property. The South Australian government remains committed to maintaining South Australia's status as the only mainland state free of fruit fly and continues to apply significant efforts to eradicate the pest from multiple outbreaks in the Riverland.

I look forward to continuing to update the council on the government's continued efforts to eradicate this pest from South Australia, and I also look forward to continuing the positive relationship where everyone accepts that biosecurity is a shared responsibility, whether it be those of us who grow fruit in our backyards, whether it be commercial growers or travellers into and out of appropriate areas. I look forward to being able to provide more updates as we go forward.