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Wednesday, 25 June 2014
Page: 3866

Senator COLBECK (TasmaniaParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture) (12:41): Senator Xenophon, particularly here in Australia I would not agree with you about a decline in bee population. I know that there are issues, particularly in Europe. I have read the report that you have read in relation to that. A lot of the issues around bee decline in Europe relate more to hive management than agricultural chemicals. I am very sensitive to that because I understand that somewhere north of 60 per cent of our horticultural pollination is done by wild bees and so maintaining that population is very important.

We do have a different system. We do watch and we do interact with other jurisdictions. We have an adverse reporting system. So, if there is an event, that process itself—the adverse reporting process—can trigger a review. So there are a number of safeguards in place. It is not that we are operating in isolation. We have looked at what happens in other jurisdictions and seen the impact on those markets. We are very cognisant of that. We did that during the Senate inquiry into this piece of legislation before the election. That is why we took the position that we did then, and we maintain that position now. We are very conscious of the need to have safe access to chemicals with good efficacy for agriculture but also to protect the environment and, as you quite rightly say, bee populations. But we believe that this provides the right balance.