THE Victorian Coalition Government values the remarkable contribution of our horticultural industries and growers in producing fresh fruit, growing the economy and creating jobs.
The Coalition Government is committed to working with industry to maintain Sunraysia’s preferred trading status into Asian markets by eradicating Queensland fruit fly (Qfly) from the Sunraysia pest-free area.
That is why in my first 18 months as Agriculture and Food Security Minister I have delivered an additional $10 million from the State Budget to combat fruit fly outbreaks – the equivalent of four years Qfly outbreak funding under the former Labor Government.
This is on top of the Coalition Government’s annual $2.8 million commitment to Qfly surveillance and control, which I increased by $185,000 last year.
We have also allocated $250,000 to establish road block infrastructure near Euston in New South Wales.
Contrary to the claims by Australian Table Grape Association chief executive officer Jeff Scott, the Coalition Government’s ongoing efforts are helping to preserve Sunraysia’s pest-free status.
The Department of Primary Industries is currently consulting on a future Qfly management plan that would see continued investment in the effort to eradicate fruit fly from Sunraysia.
The threat to Victorian horticulture’s trading status does not come from focusing eradication efforts on Sunraysia. The threat comes from pretending we can claim wider-
Victoria is pest free when there have been unprecedented detections in each of the past three seasons.
The final decision on fruit fly management has not been taken, but it is clear further investment will be needed to keep Sunraysia pest-free into the future.
As with all other agricultural pest and disease management issues, it is appropriate for industry to invest in these responses.
DPI will continue to support industry but ultimately a small industry investment to secure access to a $50 million horticulture market makes good business sense.
I look forward to continuing to work through the issues and opportunities with industry to eradicate fruit fly from the region.
Deputy Leader of The Nationals,
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security.