Legislative Council: Wednesday, October 18, 2023


Sterile Insect Technology Facility

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (15:14): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Will the minister inform the council about the recent expansion of the Port Augusta SIT fly facility?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:14): I thank the honourable member for his question. Indeed, he has approached me on a number of occasions in regard to people who have contacted him in regard to fruit fly, and I appreciate his advocacy on their behalf.

I am delighted to provide an update to this place about the very exciting news that the Port Augusta Sterile Insect Technology Facility is now expanding its SIT fly production of Qflies from 20 million to 40 million a week, which will go directly into the Riverland region to assist with the ongoing fruit fly outbreaks in that region.

The official opening in Port Augusta occurred last month. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend because of illness, but I want to thank the member for Stuart in the other place for stepping in and officially opening the $3 million expanded centre on my behalf. I understand the member for Giles, as well as the Hon. Justin Hanson MLC in this place and the Hon. Nicola Centofanti were also in attendance for the opening. I am told there was a real 'buzz' of excitement at the opening from all who attended and were thrilled to see the expanded facility up and operating. Since the facility opened in Port Augusta seven years ago, South Australia has played a key role in research into sterile insect technology.

The state government is using every tool at its disposal to eradicate the current outbreaks in the Riverland and, of course, part of this response has been to release up to 20 million SIT flies into the affected areas each week in the appropriate season. Now, with the Port Augusta expansion in full swing, we have the ability to release up to 40 million SIT Qflies into the Riverland every week, and this will be crucial to our success in achieving eradication. I look forward to the region being covered with sterile flies over the weeks into the future, which will provide significant assistance to the on-the-ground crews who are working on the response. We know that the work going into the response is having an impact.

This particular facility won't just assist South Australia but is also significant for the Australian horticultural industry as a whole. Having more SIT flies available offers a long-term, more sustainable management solution to controlling Qfly nationally. I must also acknowledge the generous investment of the commonwealth government through its $30 million national Building Resilience to Manage Fruit Fly package, and $20 million of that has been committed to managing the risk of fruit fly in South Australia.

Along with commonwealth and state government funding for this expansion, I thank Citrus SA for their financial contribution towards the building of the expanded facility. I understand Citrus SA Chair, Mark Doecke, and executive officer Frances Asher both attended the opening and I thank them for their continued partnership in the response to fruit fly outbreaks in South Australia. Once again, I thank everyone involved in the build which has achieved a high-quality economical build in a short time frame. I look forward to continuing to provide updates to this place on the state government's response to fruit fly in South Australia.