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Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee
Future of the beekeeping and pollination service industries in Australia
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Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee
Ruston, Sen Anne
Xenophon, Sen Nick
Whish-Wilson, Sen Peter
Gallacher, Sen Alex
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Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee
(Senate-Tuesday, 15 April 2014)
CHAIR (Senator Sterle)
ACTING CHAIR (Senator Gallacher)
- Mr Pitt
Content WindowRural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee - 15/04/2014 - Future of the beekeeping and pollination service industries in Australia
DUFFIELD, Mr Leigh, Private capacity
CHAIR: I welcome Mr Leigh Duffield. Is there anything you would like to add about the capacity in which you appear?
Mr Duffield : I am a commercial apiarist of South Australia.
CHAIR: You have lodged submission 31 with the committee. Would you like to make any amendments or additions to your submission?
Mr Duffield : No.
CHAIR: I will invite you to make a brief opening statement before we go to questions.
Mr Duffield : I only want to say that I think it is very important that the industry look to encouraging the formation or the writing of an import risk assessment for our industry and that we have a quality standard for Australian honey that meets Codex Alimentarius standards and is equal to the standards set by the European Union.
Senator RUSTON: In relation to that need for an IRA, in terms of the honey that is currently imported into this country, is there not already an import risk assessment undertaken on that?
Mr Duffield : I do not believe there is. I have not found one. New Zealand has a very comprehensive import risk assessment, which I have here at the moment. I think it is critical that we do a complete import risk assessment for the Australian apiculture industry to cover honey risks and incursions of any form of pests that can come here so that we can actually have it written down so that our administrators, when we do get a problem, have a rule book there that they can go to straightaway and say, 'That's it; we can fix that.'
Senator RUSTON: So, on the basis of the evidence that was given by the three gentlemen who were here before and their comments about the incursion response plans, you would be more adamant, I suppose, that the incursion plans that the federal department has are not adequate or responsive enough to deal with the issues of biosecurity. Is that a fair assessment of what you have just said?
Mr Duffield : You have summed it up pretty well. I think we have opportunities to do it better. I think we have opportunities to identify risks to a greater degree. For example, for a long time we have been saying to the community that the Varroa destructor is a very big concern. My opinion is that any Varroa species or subspecies is a danger to Australia. We have just now been informed that the Varroa jacobsoni has adapted to the European honey bee. Previously we said it was only the Varroa destructor that had jumped ship. I think we have to cover all bases and say that any insect that is a danger is a danger to us because they are continually mutating overseas and we do not want any problem here in Australia. Being an island country, we have the opportunity to stop it.
Senator RUSTON: You are obviously involved in the industry association as well as being here in your own right today, so you are supporting of the South Australian apiarists and the national body. Is that correct?
Mr Duffield : Yes.
Senator RUSTON: So, in terms of your personal involvement in developing some of these things, what has the industry done, what have you done, what is your relationship with the federal department in trying to get some of these things put in place? One would suggest that things like incursion plans and IRAs and responses need to be developed as a mutual partnership. So, what is your relationship with the federal department? How have you been interacting, either individually or though your associations with the department?
Mr Duffield : I have heard Hansard a number of times. Thank you for that question. Originally, I worked with Dr David Banks to look at methods of beelining bees to identify, once we get an incursion, where the hive may be. That started in Canberra with a hive of bees in a tree that we found, and Dr David Banks and two or three others and I were involved in working out a system and methodology to identify that hive and to find it. We took that program to Bamaga. The current CEO of AHBIC and I went up there and trained the locals, and then on Bribie Island we road-tested that program with a great deal of success. We have now put it in place in a number of areas around Australia when we have had incursions. I am now of the opinion that we have some holes in that system.
Senator RUSTON: So one of the outcomes you would be seeking from this hearing is a recommendation that we take that whole incursion biosecurity risk assessment to another level?
Mr Duffield : Yes, definitely. I think one of the important things is that we have some very intelligent people in Australia, and the late Dr David Banks was a very good example of that in our industry. We have a gentleman here at the moment in this room who has been very forward in the planning of incursion eradication. One thing that we seem to overlook is that we have to include apiarists who can think like a bee, who can behave like a bee and who can understand what a bee is likely to do, not what the book says it will do. I could give you four examples of where we have used apiarists' intelligence and they have overcome the problems of incursions very, very quickly, whereas the geniuses—with respect to those people, if I may use that term—have run by the book, and it has taken ages. Chair, if you wish, I could give you a couple of examples.
CHAIR: I am just going to do that—with your indulgence, Senator Ruston—because we do have time, Mr Duffield, and I think it is important that you highlight and bring to attention those four examples that you are talking about.
Mr Duffield : On the Bribie Island simulated incursion, we identified that Bribie Island had a population of black bees, the English bee. We found it quite simple to take over four nucleus hives of yellow bees and locate them in the scrub. With the program that Dr David Banks and the grassroots of the apiculture industry wrote up, we took all of the departmental representatives from around Australia—NAQS, AQIS and a couple of senators went up there with us, one from Tasmania—and a number of beekeepers. The plan was to mimic a program whereby the experts, the departmental people, went out and set up the initial response, and then, 36 hours later, we brought in the apiculture section. That was representatives of every state association. They sent three people up there as help. After 36 hours, we had bait stations working but no identification of any hives, which is a critical time to catch them.
One South Australian went up there, had a smoke, looked at one bait station, then went and looked at the second bait station and came back to me and said, 'Are we looking for a little white nucleus hive?' I said: 'I'm not going to carry a triple in here. Logically, we'd use a small hive.' They asked: 'What colour would they be? Are they yellow?' I said, 'In everything else, we've got to mimic an incursion.' He said, 'They're out there in the trees'—20 minutes and he had found them. We then took him out of the system. He became an auditor of the program. Three days later we found the first colony. My thoughts on that are that you have to get a bloke that can think like a bee.
On another occasion we had a supposed incursion on Kangaroo Island. That same bloke was employed on Kangaroo Island. We came to the conclusion that it was not an incursion; it was actually another swarm of bees that had come in and migrated. We were able to demonstrate that and alleviate any problems on that island.
Another issue was in Darwin. An A.cerana swarm came in. We did not know at the time, but it had located underneath a hot water service in a home in Darwin. For four days we pestered our brains trying to work out what it was, and on a phone hook-up one evening, following an experience that I had had at Bamaga when we were training the natives up there, I said, 'Are you working at night?' That seemed ridiculous to these fellows because bees do not work at night. After discussion with them, they started work at three o'clock in the morning. By four o'clock they found the cerana bees working on a particular plant, and by nightfall that night we had located the hive.
So what I am saying is that it is very important that we include the grassroots beekeepers, and it is very important that we keep testing these programs and bringing beekeepers on board to assess them so that we can actually work out who can think like a bee and who cannot. Those blokes would be in the lead force where they would come in as field observers or forward field observers in the program.
CHAIR: It sounds too easy!
Mr Duffield : It is. I can assure you, Senator, that it is very easy if we get the right people.
CHAIR: I was being a little bit facetious there. Sorry, Mr Duffield. It is not the growers, but, when you are dealing with bureaucracy and government, things get a little bit hazy, yet this makes so much sense.
Mr Duffield : I have shared that same frustration on a number of occasions.
CHAIR: I cut in on you, Senator Ruston.
Senator RUSTON: I am happy to come back, but I will let my other colleagues have time.
Senator XENOPHON: Mr Duffield, your submission makes pretty depressing reading from my point of view, in that you say that the More than honey report of the House of Representatives back in 2008 made a number of recommendations, and it appears that none of those have been followed through to any degree.
Mr Duffield : Yes. No. 1 has been included. We have Pollination Australia.
Senator XENOPHON: Yes, but has that got enough funding to do its job?
Mr Duffield : I was very interested to read the report of my colleague behind me, in her submission, that it was stillborn. I believe it is still on life support, trying to reinvigorate it, and that is wasting money. I think we need to have a look at things that we put in place and make sure that they do work. They have to be accountable.
Senator XENOPHON: You have also said, about the current standard:
A concise quality standard for Australian honey needs to be written which reflects the true unadulterated quality of apiary products produced by Australian Apiarists.
And you have heard your colleagues previously say that the current standard 2.8.2 is not being enforced and there needs to be another, greater standard. You have said:
The current standard simply allows Australia to be a dumping point for any sub standard honey in the world which is unacceptable in many other trading countries.
Can you elaborate on that?
Mr Duffield : On a number of occasions honey has come into Australia which is adulterated with chemicals which are not permitted to be used in Australia. We have found that honey both in the national product and in the international product that we have re-exported. That reflects badly on our industry. It would suggest, if we were using an antibiotic, that we have a disease which that antibiotic—which is not legal in Australia—is directed to and which is not present in Australia. We have got caught out on too many occasions. I think that the Australian product is a very good product and needs to be defined as that, and that we need to sell it overseas as a very pristine product, in which case—
Senator XENOPHON: Which it is.
Mr Duffield : It certainly is.
Senator XENOPHON: Yes. You may want to take this on notice. You have said that imported honey is:
… blended with the Australian product and is sold as 'Product of Australia'.
My understanding of the definition of 'Product of Australia' is that it must be entirely Australian honey. Are you talking about 'Made in Australia', which can have a blend of imported ingredients?
Mr Duffield : Yes, 'Made in Australia'.
Senator XENOPHON: So you may want to just clarify. That is okay. I am just saying that it is a common source of confusion.
Mr Duffield : Yes, thank you.
Senator XENOPHON: It is 'Made in Australia' that you are concerned about—
Mr Duffield : Yes.
Senator XENOPHON: that confuses consumers. I just want to go to one issue. On the maximum residue level set for oxytetracycline allowed in Australian honey, you say:
… the Australian level is set at .3mg/kg which arguably is the highest in the world.
Why is that? Why historically do we have such a high level? Is that due to imported honey or what? Is it due to the use of tetracycline in spraying crops, or what is the cause of that?
Mr Duffield : No. I was originally on the committee that was established to have a look at the necessity for an oxytetracycline level. My colleague representing the industry was the then chairman of the AHBIC committee, Ray Phillips. Both of us complained at the time when that committee received the application to do the research that it was poorly prepared, it was not properly replicated, and it would never pass the test of credibility. Unfortunately, they sacked both the chairman of the AHBIC and me and they went ahead with the program.
CHAIR: Who is 'they', sorry?
Mr Duffield : Unfortunately, it was run by our research and development council. They went ahead with the program without the presence of beekeepers on it.
Senator XENOPHON: Hang on. It was a research project on honey?
Mr Duffield : It was a research project to identify the necessity to set an MRL for oxytetracycline in Australian honey.
Senator WHISH-WILSON: Just a point of clarification here: why is there oxytetracycline in honey in the first place?
Mr Duffield : Oxytetracycline is used to cure or to inhibit the disease European foulbrood. My colleague over my shoulder will give you the scientific name for that if you so require. It also masks AFB, which is American foulbrood. We were discussing the control of AFB at the time. A number of apiarists were advocating that we move toward the prophylactic treatment of AFB, and the industry basically were saying, 'No, we don't.' So what we wanted to do was to set a standard for oxytetracycline, or an MRL for oxytetracycline.
Senator WHISH-WILSON: How is it administered to the bees?
Mr Duffield : It can be administered dry or it can be administered in a sugar solution, and only over the brood nest. That is the recommended method of using it.
Senator XENOPHON: But you and one of your colleagues were sacked, so there was no input from beekeepers?
Mr Duffield : Yes, both of us were eliminated from that advisory committee. They went ahead with the program. Both of us complained that it was conducted at the wrong time of the year. Because of the necessity of haste, they did that. It was done in the wintertime. It was administered in the wrong manner. It was administered at the wrong location, the wrong vegetation source. Obviously we had to get a high reading, and obviously the high reading, the average, had to be the MRL, and that is what we went for.
Senator XENOPHON: You are saying that an import risk assessment would cost about half a million dollars or so to do?
Mr Duffield : The last estimate we had was about half a million dollars. We thought it would be good value.
Senator XENOPHON: And what is at stake here is an industry that is directly worth—what—about $200 million a year in honey production? More than that?
Mr Duffield : I do not believe that is where we should be looking. I think we should be looking at the value of pollination in Australia.
Senator XENOPHON: That is right. To put it in perspective, honey and other higher products generate around $90 million a year in Australia, but the contribution of honey bees to crop production is around $4 billion a year.
Mr Duffield : Yes.
Senator XENOPHON: And you are saying that the government department cannot find half a million dollars for an import risk assessment?
Mr Duffield : I do not always blame the government departments. I think that we have to put together a very compelling argument to the government, and if we can do that we can win the day. As yet, we have not achieved that goal.
Senator XENOPHON: Right. And hopefully the Senate committee is part of that process. Without the import risk assessment that Senator Ruston referred to in a question to you earlier, what risks are there for the industry? Is it a case of not if but when we will end up with Varroa mite that will have a devastating impact on the bee industry and on pollination in Australia?
Mr Duffield : In my past life, I worked with New Zealand with quality standards and an import risk assessment. That was back in the late nineties. New Zealand completed theirs, and they do not import honey. They have a very good quality standard for honey. I believe they go for the Codex standard, and they have a very good import risk assessment. Ironically, a number of the assessments of that risk were done by Australian experts, and I think we can do that ourselves. If we get that in there, the risk will be that a number of these pests, diseases and pathogens which we do not have in Australia will be identified, and that will then firm up the opinion that any import risk needs to be averted.
Senator XENOPHON: Finally, do you consider that the department federally ought to listen more to the industry, to those at the grassroots, to those on the ground, or do you think that is happening sufficiently at the moment?
Mr Duffield : I think our industry is doing the best with the capacity that it has. I think we need help, and I—
Senator XENOPHON: No, that was not the question. Is the department listening to you guys?
Mr Duffield : We have the current Chairman of AHBIC on board, and he is working with the government now. In my time working with the government, we had very good response, and I have absolute confidence in people in government that, if you do put a good story or a good argument together, they will assist in some manner, and you will get a good result.
Senator XENOPHON: But they still have not done an import risk assessment?
Mr Duffield : But we have not got an import risk assessment at this stage.
Senator XENOPHON: Okay.
Senator RUSTON: Has honey always been able to be imported into Australia or was there an application?
Mr Duffield : There was no necessity to import honey into Australia until up until about 1990. We were net exporters. We brought in elite honeys. Heather honey from Scotland was introduced. We brought in some clover honey from New Zealand. But there were no honeys of any quantity imported into Australia. But the difficulty we run into now is that a number of countries that are using quick fix methods to cure diseases in their bees. They finish up with a substandard product. It does not attract a very high price on the international market. The countries that adhere to standards for their honey will not buy it. It has got to go somewhere. If Australia does not have good standards, the door is open.
Senator RUSTON: I was just trying to work out if honey has always been imported then that would explain why there is not an IRA for honey. Whereas if there was a point in time that honey became an imported product then I would be seeking to understand why it did not have an IRA undertaken on it at that time even if it was a substandard IRA. Do we know when honey was first imported into Australia in any way shape or form?
Mr Duffield : That would be difficult. The quantities of honey started coming into Australia during the 1990s.
Senator RUSTON: But in the 1990s you could not just start importing something into Australia without having some sort of approval.
Mr Duffield : That is when it started coming in.
Senator RUSTON: So we need to research back to the 1990s?
Mr Duffield : Yes.
Senator RUSTON: I might ask the association which has been more involved in the day-to-day stuff.
CHAIR: When Senator Xenophon asked you if there was varroa mite incursion it would destroy the industry or it would be significant. But did not our previous witnesses from SAAA say it would not?
Mr Duffield : The SAAA said 30 to 50 per cent would be the impact in the first couple of years. Bear in mind that if the varroa incursion came into Brisbane, it may only take three months to get into South Australia because of the transportation of pollination bees from Queensland to the river land and then we can pick it up there and take it right around. My opinion is that Australia will be the most disadvantaged country in the world if we do get varroa mite because we have got cerana bees here, which is a natural host, so we will not be able to get rid of it. We will have to treat more frequently, we have further distances to travel, the cost will be far greater and it will be uneconomic to manage European honeybees and you cannot manage apis cerana.
CHAIR: That has cleared that up succinctly for me.
Senator WHISH-WILSON: I want to ask you the question I asked the previous experts: do you have any thoughts of on European wasps as a threat?
Mr Duffield : The commercial apiarists in South Australia do not notice a great deal of influence by but the amateurs in the Adelaide Hills do. In and around the Adelaide Hills there is a great prevalence of European wasps and they do cause a lot of mischief in that area. But in the back country, the wasps are not as numerous out there so obviously they do not cause as much trouble.
Senator WHISH-WILSON: I spoke to a beekeeper yesterday who only had one hive in Victoria. He said his hive died this year and he was not sure why. He was suggesting it had lots to do with the unusual heat around Melbourne this year. Have you examined the impacts of climate change at an industry level on bees? Is there a relationship between extreme temperatures and productivity?
Mr Duffield : Absolutely there is. The colony has to be maintained at a very precise temperature, 35 to 37 degrees Celsius, otherwise your brood cooks or freezes. If it gets too hot, we will either have to change the method of transporting bees, we will have to change the method of boxing bees and we may have to look at different materials to use for bees. It can have a serious impact.
Senator WHISH-WILSON: Leaving aside whether it has anything to do with climate change, but do the weather variations now kill bees?
Mr Duffield : Yes. There were a number of bees lost on the west coast this year because of the heat—up to 50 degrees Celsius. And in the upper River Murray area of South Australia a number of hives were lost.
Senator WHISH-WILSON: In relation to what you mentioned previously, around oxytetracycline, you seemed in your submission to be concerned that it might interfere with antimicrobial properties in honey. Are you saying that there is potential for signal research?
Mr Duffield : That has been the hobby of mine for a long time. I am fiercely proud of the quality of Australian honey. In 1993, with the late Graeme Kleinsmith, we started looking at the pharmaceutical properties of Australian honey. We know that a number of Australian honeys have very good pharmaceutical properties. That has not yet been fully developed. I think we need to go down that track. It is essential that we do it because bacteria are mutating constantly, making it more difficult for the known antibiotics to clean them up. Honey can do that.
Senator WHISH-WILSON: Is the industry providing levies for that sort of research?
Mr Duffield : The industry is struggling at the moment to provide levies, just to keep itself. We need to examine all of those areas. One of my thoughts is that Pollination Australia has to form partnerships with other industries who are dependent on us to make a living so that they can help to make sure that we continue to make a living to support them.
Senator GALLACHER: You just touched on something there. Does the industry pay a general levy in terms of addressing market problems?
Mr Duffield : We do not have a marketing levy. We have that levy set at zero. We do have levies run by the industry for biosecurity, and we have voluntary levies that we pay to our peak bodies.
Senator GALLACHER: Are they working well?
Mr Duffield : They could work a lot better. We have a lot of leakage. There are areas there that we need to address. Indeed, we are addressing that at this very point in time. There will be a vote on that in the very near future, which our chairman can elaborate on later.
Senator GALLACHER: I heard the Minister for Agriculture pose this question when he was a senator. He asked, 'If you were the agriculture minister for six months what would be the first three things you would do for apiarists or your industry?' What would you do if you had the power?
Mr Duffield : The first move I would make is to look at import risk assessment to set those standards. I would look to get better cooperation with the industries that are dependent on pollination—get everybody to work together. The education of the value of the European honey bee to the Australian economy needs to be spread far and wide so that people can understand the importance of it. I would take the fear out of the sting of the bee and have people realise the importance of the bee to putting food into and sustaining the human body.
Senator XENOPHON: In your submission you suggest that policies for access to native vegetation should recognise the environmental awareness of apiarists. Are you saying that there is a problem getting access to native vegetation at the moment? We have heard from previous witnesses that SA Water, despite a memorandum of understanding with apiarists, lower down the chain refuse access. They have trouble giving access to land. What is the issue in respect of native vegetation? Is there frustration amongst apiarists in getting access to that? Should there be some consistent standards of environmental awareness or training in respect of that to deal with concerns about access?
Mr Duffield : Very much so. In the water works we originally had 166 pegged sites. Now I believe there is fewer than 50. There is a memorandum of understanding—we have heard about that—with the national parks system. I have forgotten what they call themselves now but I am talking about the administrators of our national parks and conserved areas. The land manager of each individual area has the ability to write the management programs. If he does not like bees they write it out. An example of that is in Innes National Park at the bottom of Yorke Peninsula. There is an apiarist over there who has five bee sites. He has paid for them since he transferred them from the previous owner in 1991. They have pulled the pegs. They have taken the money; they have sent him a receipt but we cannot get in the gate.
Senator XENOPHON: It does not sound like value for money, does it?
Mr Duffield : It is not really good value for money, but we are too frightened to stop paying, because the history of the access will be lost. So we have paid $375 for every year since 1991, and we have driven past the gate and we cannot get in. In the year that we have just gone through, we could have put 20 loads of bees in that particular park, and it had excellent pollen. A good nectar source would really have rehabilitated the bees off the lucerne pollination. There were beekeepers out there that were desperate for sites, and we had the gate shut.
CHAIR: I am a bit miffed. Why would they not want you on there? Why would the local manager of SA water—
Mr Duffield : Because the bees in national parks are a great threat to human health or whatever it may be because of stings or whatever, but when we put bees onto a pollination contract we can have them by sheds, on roadways and all sorts of things, and they do not hurt people. So I think we got back to Senator Whish-Wilson's—
CHAIR: Am I looking baffled? I am from WA. You want to walk around Northbridge late at night. It is more dangerous than a few bees in a national park, for crying out loud. That is the cashed-up miners.
Mr Duffield : I was on St Kilda Street last night, and I found more difficulty down there too.
Senator WHISH-WILSON: You cannot pull out a sandwich in a Tasmanian national park and not get attacked by European wasps. Bees are not a problem; it is the bloody wasps that are a problem.
Mr Duffield : Quite right. The Australian commercial apiarist does not like bee stings himself, so we look after our bees and keep our stock in such a condition that you absolutely minimise the aggression of the bees. That is what our queen breeders are breeding for. We now have very good stock in Australia. If we are given the opportunity this afternoon, we would like to take you out there, because we can demonstrate a box of bees with no protective gear at all, and nobody will get stung.
CHAIR: We will have a chat about that in the break. We might be safer in Northbridge! If we do have time, I think that some of the senators want to—why are you looking at me like that? You are not setting me up, are you?
Mr Duffield : Absolutely not.
CHAIR: Somehow I have a feeling I have a gumby sign in the air here!
Mr Duffield : I have demonstrated European honey bees to schoolchildren a number of times—up to 20 children at a time, with no protection on them at all, because we just did not have enough veils. The kids were holding the frames looking at the queen and gave them back to me to put them back in the box. If you manage your hives correctly and you have the right attitude toward them, they are like dogs, cats or anything else. If you do not look after them properly, they will bite you or scratch you; if you do look after them, you do not get injured in any way.
CHAIR: I am seeing some giggling behind your back there, Mr Duffield. I really think I walked into this one.
Mr Duffield : My colleague young Mick Pitt, who sat in this seat, has almost got to the stage of taking off his veil. I referred to the Bamaga program earlier. We had a fellow up there by the name of Jackson Sailor who was the quarantine manager. In the heat up there, he wore two pairs of overalls, two veils and a pair of leather gloves that reached up to his armpits. At the end of the week, I got him down to a net veil. He was not aware of the fact that he had actually torn the veil from top to bottom, and he did his whole assessment at the end of the week with his face completely exposed. He did not believe that was possible, and when he finished I slapped him on the face very gently and said: 'Well done, Jackson. You've passed that one. You've done well.' He could not believe that he had worked bees all day without his veil on. They were the same bees that he was traumatised of a week earlier.
CHAIR: Well, I reckon that while the media is here I am challenging Senator Xenophon to go and do that. So what I will do, because we are running out of time—
Senator XENOPHON: Chair, can I just put another question on—
CHAIR: I do want to come back to Senator Whish-Wilson. We are now on the time limit.
Senator WHISH-WILSON: Mr Duffield, you also mentioned in your submission the great disappointment around the More than honey report and recommendations not being implemented after six years—water under the bridge. In particular, you highlighted the establishment of a national centre for honey bee and pollination industry research. Was there any costing or funding researched around the establishment of that centre for research?
Mr Duffield : I think we have tinkered with it. I am not sure of the facts. We need to look at that. I think we tinkered with that, but we have lost six years of very valuable research and advancement to make sure that we have our industry going forward, and it is going to take some catching up. One example is that from 1900 to 1978, last century, we had two known bee diseases that worried the apiculture industry, American foulbrood and European foulbrood. From that period of time till now, we have had four which are major concerns. We have small hive beetle, we have chalkbrood, we have Nosema ceranae and Apis cerana that have invaded us. What we really need is a cooperative research council to look at the opportunities and the risks for our industry and to coordinate correspondence between all parties in Australia so that we understand how best to look after our future by way of food security.
Senator WHISH-WILSON: And has there been any research done in an area like climate change and potential risks and mitigation? Is that something the centre could look at as well?
Mr Duffield : I think that is something that we really do need to look to and I think there is a great opportunity to use bees to look at that. An astute apiarist can see changes possibly years before anybody else. An example of that is a great beekeeper in the south-east who identified something 20 years before anybody else. Unfortunately, that beekeeper is now deceased, but he had one of the best bee brains that we have in a human being in Australia.
Senator WHISH-WILSON: Thank you.
Senator XENOPHON: I think this will have to be on notice. This is in relation to your evidence about the national park and how an apiarist has been paying $375 a year or thereabouts for the last 20 years and cannot get access to that park. Can you or any of your colleagues provide the committee with more information in relation to that?
Mr Duffield : We can get a copy of the book, the receipts—
Senator XENOPHON: And any correspondence as to why they refused access. It just seems extraordinary.
Mr Duffield : The simple answer is that the land manager there has written bee access out of his land management plan.
Senator XENOPHON: And there is no right of appeal to that?
Mr Duffield : There is no right of appeal.
Senator XENOPHON: Thank you.
CHAIR: Thank you very much. We will have a chat amongst ourselves at the morning smoko break about your offer to see if we can facilitate that challenge to Senator Xenophon.