Legislative Council: Thursday, February 08, 2024


Bee Deaths

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (14:25): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development on bee deaths in the Riverland.

Leave granted.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: On Tuesday 6 February, in response to a question asked by myself, the minister declared that 'Naturalure…is not applied directly onto bees, hives or flowering plants where bees are foraging', and that, 'PIRSA conducts a risk assessment on properties where the agency is aware that managed beehives are present', and that, 'In communication with the landowner, Naturalure may be applied appropriately in those circumstances.'

In freedom of information documents obtained by the opposition, documentation about a phone call to the fruit fly hotline on 20 July 2023 states that:

A person has phoned up quite distressed. She has a registered beehive on the property and has allegedly witnessed a team member bait the hive today.

In a different FOI document about a separate phone call to the PIRSA fruit fly hotline three months later, it states that on 20 October 2023:

A person has called this morning. She has three beehives on the property and the team have left a card to say they have baited. The person said that she has had numerous conversations (with PIRSA personnel) and each time is advised that there would be no return for baiting; however the team returned.

So my questions to the minister are:

1. Is she aware of these complaints?

2. Given there have been repeated multiple complaints to her department, as well as to the minister herself, will she now commit to an independent review—that is, a review outside of her department and her government—into bee deaths in the Riverland?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:26): I am certainly happy to take on notice the two inquiries that are being referred to, the apparent calls to the hotline, and bring back any additional information that might be available. It is, however, worth emphasising again that there are many activities within the urban environment that can impact on bees. It is important to note that bees can be vulnerable to different herbicides and pesticides, including common garden products. In terms of the specific queries that the honourable member has asked, I will seek a response from the department.