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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 51 asked in the Legislative Council on 14 February 2019 by Hon Robin Scott

Minister responding: Hon A. MacTiernan
Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on 14 February 2019

MEDITERRANEAN FRUIT FLY

51. Hon ROBIN SCOTT to the Minister for Agriculture and Food:

I refer to a communication signed by 118 persons, stating —

We the undersigned growers in the Carnarvon Horticultural precinct oppose the Fruit Fly eradication programme in its current form, and request that the Minister for Agriculture and Food and the Carnarvon Growers Association discontinue the trial. The levy and the compliance issues are unfair and too heavy a burden for the industry to carry and we demand that both be scrapped immediately.

(1) Will the minister confirm that in November 2018, she received that communication signed by 118 persons?

(2) Will the minister confirm that she has since received a similar communication signed by 119 persons?

(3) What action has the minister taken to respond to the concerns of the signatories of these communications?

(4) Has the fruit fly eradication program been discontinued or suspended; and, if not, why not?

Hon ALANNAH MacTIERNAN replied:

I thank the member for the question. Member, some people are going to accuse me of setting up a dorothy dixer on this one.

(1)–(4) Yes, I did receive that first petition that the member mentioned. As a result of that petition, I took myself into the Carnarvon region, where I had a public meeting with the growers to talk about this concern. I must admit that I think one of the fantastic things is that my good friend the member for that region, Vince Catania, and I are on a unity ticket on this one. I think Hon Ken Baston might have been the minister at the time this program was started. This is unashamedly a very, very good program. It is aimed at getting rid of Mediterranean fruit fly in Carnarvon, which is incredibly important for the continuation of that region. However, there were legitimate concerns about the way in which the levy was being applied.

As a result of that meeting, I made a number of propositions. The first was that I would put in a substitute rate and commence that process to ensure that every commercial operator was rated, because around 14 operators were not being rated. The second was that we would take on for this year an additional expense of providing all the sterile fruit flies to reduce the total amount. The third was that we would relate the charge to the size of the property, not the value of the property. That is now out for formal consultation, and that period will close around mid-February.

I really urge everyone to get behind the program. We should have an absolutely tripartisan view on the need to eradicate fruit fly in Carnarvon.