Fines absent in Victorian fruit fly fight

NO one was fined for bringing fruit into a restricted area in Victoria in 2018.

However, Victoria’s agriculture depart­ment said its approach to managing fruit fly was different to South Aust­ralia’s “zero-tolerance” tactics because the pest was already well established within Victorian borders.

South Australia began enforcing a hard-line approach to motorists enter­ing its borders with prohibited fruit last Friday, issuing fines to anyone found with produce where warnings would previously have been handed out.

Victoria’s policy, in contrast, is aimed at ensuring fruit fly-infested produce is not moved around the state or over the border.

“Last year, this involved the regulation and audit of 374 certification, accreditation and compliance agreements with producers who move fresh produce within Victoria and interstate,” Victoria’s chief plant health officer Rosa Crnov said.

In Victoria, the maximum fine for taking a prohibited host fruit or vegetable into a restricted area is $9671 for an individual or $48,357 for a company.

Individuals can also be slapped with $322 on-the-spot fines while companies can be fined $1611.

“Victoria has not issued any fines in relation to bringing fruit into a restricted area, however does actively provide information to the public on the need to dispose of fruit and has signage and disposal bins available around restricted areas,” Ms Crnov said.

“Victoria is committed to working with industry and the community to implement a statewide fruit fly suppression program particular to Victoria’s fruit fly situation.”

That includes $1.67 million for the Sunraysia region for targeted fruit fly management programs, urban trapping, removal of thousands of unwanted trees and efforts to raise community awareness.

The Victorian Government gave Mildura Council $441,000 late last year so fruit fly management efforts across the Greater Sunraysia Pest Free Area could continue until June after an industry development committee was disbanded.

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