Legislative Council: Thursday, July 07, 2022


Question Time

Varroa Mite

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (14:24): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development a question regarding biosecurity.

Leave granted.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: On 24 June, the varroa mite (Varroa destructor) was found in two beehives in Newcastle, New South Wales. Until now, Australia has been lucky to be the last remaining beekeeping continent free of this destructive pest. The outbreak of varroa mite in New South Wales threatens not only South Australia's beekeepers but also our agricultural sector more broadly, because bees also provide essential pollination services. My questions to the minister are:

1. Has the minister met with key stakeholder groups within the horticultural and agricultural sectors since the outbreak was announced?

2. If so, which key stakeholders has the minister met with to discuss the varroa mite outbreak?

3. What resources in FTEs have been allocated within PIRSA to prepare, mitigate and respond to the risk of varroa mite outbreak in South Australia?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:25): I thank the honourable member for her question. I think I did respond to several of those questions within the ministerial statement that I tabled just prior to question time. My department is meeting with all affected stakeholders. Of course, the pressing issue is in regard to pollination for the almond industry. Normally, pollination and movement of bees and hives for that purpose would commence in August. It is certainly a big concern to people in that industry as well as, I am sure, South Australians more broadly.

There is work in progress as we speak, which has been in progress since 22 June when the first outbreaks were detected in New South Wales, for all jurisdictions to be working together. Biosecurity, of course, is a shared concern for all of us. In terms of the risks, for example, for the almond industry, if we are unable to move beehives in the time that they need to have the pollination occur, that is certainly a big risk and it will be of concern to all. The biosecurity team is working very hard. We are having daily conversations, as they are with the various affected stakeholders, of which there are many.