Legislative Council: Wednesday, September 27, 2023


Question Time

Fruit Fly

The Hon. T.T. NGO (14:59): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Can the minister tell the council about the spring fruit fly traveller campaign?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:59): I thank the honourable member for his question. As members in this place would be aware, fruit fly is one of the world's worst plant pests. The value of South Australia's horticultural industry is $1.3 billion, and that is why it is critical to continue eradication efforts in the Riverland. We need to do everything we can to protect commercial fruit and vegetable farmers, as well as the backyard growers, from this pest. Just one piece of fruit infested with larvae or eggs can result in a fruit fly outbreak, with significant costs and impact on industry, government and the local community.

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 outbreak sites in the South Australian Riverland. That is why I am pleased to be able to update this chamber about a new advertising campaign, which is aimed at travellers and is now on air, digital screens and in print to highlight the dangers of bringing fruit and vegetables into the Riverland.

The traveller campaign, Your Fruit Can Have Devastating Impacts, launched today, in time for the October long weekend, along with the school holidays. The advertising will appear across print media, radio, social media and outdoor spaces, such as notice boards, roadhouse signage and flyer stands. As I mentioned earlier, one piece of fruit can cause an enormous amount of devastation, resulting in fruit fly outbreaks, and this campaign seeks to amplify this message. It does not matter if it is homegrown fruit or fruit purchased at the shops, during this spring campaign travellers will be reminded that they must eat their fruit or dispose of it using the designated quarantine bins at key entry points into South Australia, or they will face an on-the-spot fine of $414.

As the school holidays approach, it is particularly timely to remember that anyone seeking to travel through areas with fruit fly restrictions needs to be mindful of their obligations. Everyone has a role to play in achieving eradication of fruit fly from the Riverland. The 2023 fruit fly traveller campaign aims to:

rejuvenate fruit fly prevention messaging to educate travellers into South Australia and the Riverland on fruit fly prevention measures;

heighten awareness of the actions travellers need to take to help prevent the spread of fruit fly; and

encourage travellers to find out more information from the fruit fly website and hotline.

Of course, this campaign is one of a raft of response measures the state government has implemented in the ongoing efforts to eradicate fruit fly from the Riverland region. I understand there are currently 170 staff on the frontline of the Riverland response, and they are undertaking work that includes:

supplying bait to outbreak areas;

regular checking of fruit in the region for the presence of larvae;

rolling out attract and kill devices, which follows the successful pilot trial in autumn this year;

applying a staged aerial release program for sterile Q flies—the SIT (sterile insect technology) facility across all outbreak areas. This will now be increased from 20 million fruit flies to 40 million sterile fruit flies a week because of the recently expanded Port Augusta SIT fly facility;

engaging fruit fly dog sniffers or detector dogs; and

staff picking up fallen fruit and taking unwanted fruit from trees.

These are just some of the measures, and I am very pleased that we are continuing our strong fight against this pest.