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Monday, 21 March 2011
Page: 1308

Senator COLBECK (4:28 PM) —I am really very disappointed in the government’s attitude towards this issue. The minister’s office rang my office last week to talk about dealing with this as an issue. The issues that they raised with me had to do with the size of the honey industry and the size of the pollination sector impacted by the pest. There was no discussion at all, as part of that process, about the eradication of the Asian bee. To characterise my motion as factually incorrect I find, in that context, quite disappointing and I reject it.

The reality is that the government have not looked at the science in relation to this. They did not even discuss with the experts, the CSIRO, the issue of eradication. I have had a number of representations made to me since this motion became public about the eradication of the Asian bee. I think the government’s attitude to this is quite disappointing. They are hiding behind, I think, bureaucracy and technicality. If the government genuinely wanted to deal with this issue they could do it. All they need to do is allocate some resource. Yes, there is a process for eradication that is jointly managed by the states and the Commonwealth, and it is true that some of the states involved in it do not want to continue funding the process. If the government wanted to make an allocation of some resource towards the eradication of the Asian bee they could do it. It is only a matter of willingness; that is all that is required. For the government to characterise my motion as factually incorrect, I reject completely. I would urge them to work with the bee industry and with the agricultural sector—and we can debate the size of the impact of the Asian bee on that sector to our heart’s content—as there is the capacity to deal with this. (Time expired)