Fruit Fly Motion

14th November 2018

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. F. Pangallo: 

That this council— 

1. Notes that South Australia remains Australia’s only mainland state that is fruit fly free; 

2. Acknowledges that an outbreak of fruit fly in South Australia would have a significant impact on the ability of horticultural producers in South Australia, including in the Adelaide Hills, to gain access to international markets; and 

3. Calls on the state government to work with the federal government to increase biosecurity measures in South Australia to protect our thriving horticultural industry. 

(Continued from 4 July 2018.) 

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (18:07): I do not wish to delay the house, but I would like to add a few remarks to this motion. As someone who has spoken on fruit fly throughout my career, I learned very early, as my father would have said, to drop my jaw when I say ‘fruit fly free’ because it is one of those phrases that can test you out and probably annoy Hansard. I will just make a few remarks. I think that the success of the fruit fly free system in South Australia is a great tribute to the South Australian industry. The industry is largely in the Riverland but also in other parts of the state, which for a very long time have seen the great merits of us retaining our fruit fly free status. 

One example is that, for a very long time, South Australia was a leader in what was the Tri-State Fruit Fly Committee, which involved growers and industry representatives from the Riverland, the Sunraysia region in Victoria and around the Wentworth area in New South Wales. I know that South Australian growers have been very supportive of that. Certainly, governments in New South Wales and Victoria did not support that as well as South Australia. There has generally been pretty good support for the fruit fly free status by governments of both flavours. However, we need to think that there may have been a little bit of reinvention of history in an earlier contribution. 

I commend the Hon. Mr Pangallo for bringing this motion before us. It allows the parliament to add its support for something that is very important and that South Australia should cherish. The Hon. Mr Ridgway referred to the shrinking of PIRSA under the Labor government. When there were budget cut pressures on all departments there was constant pressure from within the Labor government, and within certain areas of the bureaucracy, to cut back on the fruit fly free effort. 

I raised this matter with the Hon. Paul Holloway, who was then minister for agriculture, in the early days of the Labor government. The Liberal government, which left office in 2002, had put in place significant plans and provisions for increased random fruit fly inspections, and many of us thought it was very important to have the random inspections rather than just the ones that people knew they could deviate around if they really wanted to. That was something that was under threat. To be fair to the Hon. Paul Holloway, he saw the merit of continuing with that and he resisted the pressure from within the Labor Party to scrap it. 

Later, when the Hon. Gail Gago was the minister for primary industries, there was significant pressure from within the Labor government to reduce the 24-hour scrutiny at Yamba and Ceduna. Thankfully, that was resisted, and the Hon. Gail Gago had to put up with me asking questions about that. In the end, thankfully, that did not happen and there was some reinforcement and improved facilities, particularly at Yamba. 

The other matter that was pushed during the period of the Hon. Gail Gago’s time as the minister for agriculture was the rather bizarre notion that the South Australian fruit fly checking point on the West Coast would be shifted to Border Village. It was going to be put at Border Village and amalgamated with what the Western Australians were doing. A whole number of people who were living and employed at Ceduna were told that if they wanted a job they would have to go and live at Border Village, or at Eucla in Western Australia. Thankfully, that did not happen. That is just a snapshot of some of the issues that I have dealt with in my time here. 

With great respect to the Hon. Ms Pnevmatikos, I am sure that she took those matters very sincerely, but some of that information was not included in what she was provided. In regard to her criticisms of the minister for agriculture, he knows more about the benefits of the fruit fly free status— 

The Hon. D.W. Ridgway: He has forgotten more than the Labor Party. 

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: He has forgotten more than many would ever know but, as a significant grower in the Riverland over many years, he has seen the absolute benefits to this state, to the Riverland and to the other fruit growing areas of South Australia of the continuation of the fruit fly free status. I support the comments and the amendment moved by the Hon. Mr Ridgway and also commend the Hon. Mr Pangallo for bringing this matter to our attention.