Legislative Council: Tuesday, February 06, 2024


Bee Deaths

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (14:56): I seek leave to make a brief explanation prior to addressing a question to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development on bee deaths in the Riverland.

Leave granted.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: On 31 January, the minister received a letter from a constituent in the Riverland, who is a beekeeper, who experienced the loss of 12 hives and an estimated loss of 50 per cent of the remaining bee population just days after the owner of that property witnessed PIRSA personnel spraying less than 100 metres away from the hives.

The constituent then claims that, despite him ringing a PIRSA contact number multiple times and being told that senior management would phone him back, no-one rang him back or contacted him until he approached the department in person some six weeks later. He then provided the department with a sample of the dead bees and then claims it took the department a further six weeks after testing the bees to provide him with any test results, which, unsurprisingly, came back unable to confirm any poison. So my questions to the minister are:

1. Has the minister read the letter sent to her dated 31 January 2024?

2. Has the minister contacted the constituent, as she has been asked to do so?

3. If not, why is she ignoring industry, and will she acknowledge that this is another example of her complete disregard for the interests of our state's hardworking apiarists?

4. Will the minister commit to an independent inquiry outside of PIRSA into the number of bee deaths seen in the Riverland during the fruit fly eradication process?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:57): The Leader of the Opposition says the letter was sent on 31 January, so she obviously knew the answer to her previous question in which I said I would check my records. To my knowledge that letter has not come across my desk at this stage.

I think it is important, though, also, to note that there are many activities within the urban environment that can impact bees. It is important to note that bees can be vulnerable to different herbicides and pesticides, including common garden products, particularly if they are not used according to the label. That applies to herbicides, pesticides and common garden products. So I would certainly encourage, I guess, all of us in the community to ensure that we are using any such products appropriately, according to the manufacturer's instructions.

It is fair to say that those who have expert knowledge in terms of the matters that we are discussing are those who are best placed to be able to respond to inquiries.