State government seeks fruit fly cooperation

ACTION NEEDED: Minister Tim Whetstone, right, in Ceduna last September, with Member for Flinders Peter Treloar and acting quarantine station supervisor Brady Hoffrichter.
ACTION NEEDED: Minister Tim Whetstone, right, in Ceduna last September, with Member for Flinders Peter Treloar and acting quarantine station supervisor Brady Hoffrichter.

After committing to the federal government's Intergovernmental Agreement on Fruit Fly Management, the South Australian government is urging other states to follow.

The agreement aims to strengthen Australia's fruit fly management system and was agreed in-principle at last month's Agriculture Minister's Forum.

South Australia has committed to invest a further $1.09 million in funding over four years on top of the $20 million the government was already expected to spend on fruit fly control in that period.

Fruit fly is a current issue in Ceduna and Thevenard, with an outbreak declared in January.

This outbreak follows the completion of a successful eradication operation to a Mediterranean fruit fly outbreak in Thevenard which ended in November 2018.

Both Ceduna and Thevenard are under quarantine and will be until at least April 13.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said South Australia was backing industry calls for a nationally coordinated approach to battling fruit fly.

He said while forum discussion had been positive, South Australia recognised the need for all states to sign the agreement.

"I've written to the nation's agriculture ministers encouraging them to support a national approach to fruit fly management," he said.

"Fruit fly is an increasing threat to Australia's horticultural exports and South Australia is the only mainland state to maintain a fruit fly free status.

"The $16.9 million investment announced by the Commonwealth Government in the mid-year budget will address national management of fruit fly as well as focusing on utilising greater technologies to combat this pest, such as Sterile Insect Technology."

Mr Whetstone said this investment would enable new research, development and extension programs to contribute to work in fruit fly control.

He said to minimise the impact felt across the country, it was vital for state governments to collaborate on early detection, diagnosis, stakeholder cooperation, international and domestic market access, emergency responses and ongoing management.

"South Australia plays a key national role providing a barrier that prevents the spread of Mediterranean fruit fly into the eastern states, and Queensland fruit fly to the west," Mr Whetstone said.

"The state government recently introduced a zero tolerance approach at the Yamba Quarantine Station and random roadblocks to further the state's protection against fruit fly at a time when we are eradicating outbreaks at Loxton, Ceduna and Thevenard."