The Importance of Biosecurity

The Importance of Biosecurity

Thank you Mr President. I rise today to speak about the importance of biosecurity in South Australia.

I acknowledge and support the motion on this same issue from the Member for Mackillop this morning in the other place.

Mr President, I am proud to be a South Australian. It has been a fantastic home for a great part of my life. More importantly, I am proud to be a regional South Australian and to stand here today ready to represent our state and our regional communities.

To many, regional South Australia is a beautiful holiday to my native Riverland, the Yorke Peninsula, or the Flinders Ranges. Like them, I appreciate the beauty of our State, but to me our regional communities also represent a unique set of capabilities. Capabilities such as the agricultural sector, which has not been immune to challenges but has consistently remained the backbone of our state.

The agriculture industry again has become a matter of interest as panic buying during this COVID-19 pandemic has challenged shopping centres across the nation. Despite this, the grocery association assured the community that Australia produces enough food for 75 million people. South Australia’s agricultural industry importantly contributes to this.

We enjoy a strong agricultural industry for many reasons and have fantastic food-producing regions throughout the state. The strength of these regions and our state’s agricultural industry have benefited from the biosecurity measures in place that maintain South Australia’s pest and disease-free status. This is a great advantage to our agricultural industry. It is an advantage that many other regions in our nation and the world do not have.

As a result, farm productivity increases, market access improves, and biodiverse landscapes are protected. We must not take biosecurity and the success of our food-producing regions in this state for granted.

South Australia’s biosecurity measures are vital to my local Riverland region, known for its grape and citrus production. The Riverland is the nation’s third-largest citrus producing region with about a third of its 180,000 tonnes of fruit handpicked resulting in employment for the local area. The Pest Free status of the Riverland is recognised throughout the world including nations such as the United States, Thailand, and Japan.

This pest free status is now under threat as we have seen multiple outbreaks of Mediterranean Fruit Fly across Metropolitan Adelaide. If fruit fly were to become widespread in the fruit producing areas of the Adelaide Hills it could have a devastating effect on our horticultural industry. Not to mention how it would negatively impact growers in my home region.

As one of the only regions in Australia that is free of fruit-fly, and one of the few places in the world free of the vine-destroying pest phylloxera, Riverland producers and farmers around the State have a distinct advantage.

For citrus growers, SA’s Pest Free status means producers have a competitive price and time advantage over our interstate counterparts as our produce is accepted by many markets without pre or post-harvest treatment. This results in reduced production cost, avoids problems with insecticide residues, and improves the marketability of South Australian fruit.

Currently, the state government spends approximately $5 million keeping fruit fly and other plant pests out of the state. The advantage that our producers receive for the state’s pest-free status far outweighs the money spent by the state government.  I commend the Minister and my local member for Chaffey, the Hon Tim Whetstone for his continued support of our state’s biosecurity.

I also support his consideration in extending the zero-tolerance policy to the Ceduna quarantine station. The zero-tolerance currently employed at our eastern border has been extremely successful in limiting the spread of Queensland Fruit Fly. With Mediterranean Fruit Fly now coming in from the West we must look to implement these same practices in Ceduna.

As a state, we must always remember our strengths that exist in the regions. We must continue to protect South Australia’s $14.8 billion primary industries and agribusiness sectors. We must continue to educate the community about the dangers of fruit fly and other pests to our agriculture industry. We must continue strict prevention and protection measures to defend our agricultural industry’s pest-free status.

Finally, we must continue to investigate ways to support our local agricultural industries and encourage them to innovate and advance their businesses to unlock economic activity and feed the world.

Thank you Mr President.


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