Legislative Council: Tuesday, March 21, 2023


Fruit Fly

The Hon. F. PANGALLO (15:08): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Primary Industries about Channel 7 broadcaster Mick Molloy and the coming Gather Round.

Leave granted.

The Hon. F. PANGALLO: Last week, the Seven Network announced its popular panel footy show The Front Bar, hosted by Andy Maher—I'm not sure if he's related to the Attorney-General—

The Hon. K.J. Maher: No relation.

The Hon. F. PANGALLO: —Sam Pang, who has half my surname, and Mick Molloy, will be broadcast live on 12 April from the Adelaide Oval to coincide with the inaugural Gather Round of AFL matches in South Australia. Apparently, demand for tickets might outstrip supply. As a regular viewer of the show, I am looking forward to it.

Planes, trains and automobiles will ferry tens of thousands of interstate footy fans across our border from Victoria and elsewhere to watch their teams play. In telling us that he was excited about coming here, Mick Molloy decided to take a light-hearted poke at our biosecurity border controls in saying, 'I love travelling to South Australia; I'll be bringing fruit over in my boot anyway, so it's a good excuse to watch some footy as well.'

Mick can be a funny bloke, but it appears that he has dropped the ball as to the consequences of his reckless joke, should others take him literally and bring fruit in their car boots and expose our state to yet another costly fruit fly outbreak, which endangers the fruit fly free status our producers enjoy, not to mention the on-the-spot $375 fine. My questions to the minister are:

1. Is she concerned Mr Molloy's joke could backfire badly and is sending the wrong message to footy fans driving over from Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria?

2. Will the minister now write to Mr Molloy and the Seven Network, pointing out the risks and request they issue another statement warning footy fans of the penalties for bringing fruit into our state?

3. What control measures is the government planning to put in place at border crossings to check on the thousands of vehicles expected?

4. Will the government stick to its zero tolerance approach and issue fines rather than cautions to interstate motorists caught bringing fruit into South Australia?

5. Can she tell the chamber how many motorists have been caught bringing fruit into the state illegally in the past 12 months?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:11): I thank the honourable member for his question. I must say that at the beginning of the question I was trying to work out how it was relevant to my portfolio, but if it is talking about fruit fly then, absolutely, it is incredibly relevant because, after all, fruit fly is one of the world's worst plant pests.

The farmgate value of our horticultural industry that is vulnerable to fruit fly is $1.3 billion per year. We certainly need to do everything we can to protect South Australia from any further outbreaks. One piece of fruit infested with larvae or eggs can result in a fruit fly outbreak, with the significant costs and impacts on industry, on government and on the general public.

My understanding is that we will continue with the zero tolerance policy. I do not see any reason why that would change because of the Gather Round. Certainly, I receive frequent communications from people interstate who have been fined when they have brought fruit into South Australia, fruit that is not allowed to be brought in and which potentially could be a host for fruit fly.

Under the zero tolerance approach all detections of fruit fly host material do result in an expiation being issued, subject of course to sufficient evidence being in existence. The aim of the zero tolerance approach is to change traveller behaviour and therefore prevent fruit fly entering into South Australia and particularly into our pest-free area.

I don't have the figures for the last 12 months, but I can advise the member that there has been a significant decrease in the amount of prohibited material being seized since the zero tolerance approach was introduced. For reference, in 2018, which was prior to zero tolerance, 27 tonnes of host material was seized. That reduced to 13 tonnes in 2019, 12 tonnes in 2020 and 5½ tonnes in 2021, but of course COVID restrictions also impacted that figure.

To date, I am advised that approximately 22,000 people have failed to comply with the zero tolerance and have been fined, and the current fine is $409 per offence. There has also been a number of successful prosecutions in the Magistrates Court. Zero tolerance has the full support of the South Australian industry, and my intention is that that would continue.

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Pangallo, you have a supplementary?