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Thursday, 18 June 2020
Page: 4967


Ms SHARKIE (Mayo) (14:18): My question is to the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management. To meet biosecurity requirements in international markets, SA growers must freight to irradiation facilities in Queensland or Victoria. Added time and cost of interstate freight puts SA at a distinct disadvantage. We need our own facility near the airport. With the number of fruit fly outbreaks in South Australia increasing, access to a local facility will be critical to our industry's ability to expand into new export markets. Given the importance of diversifying our trading partners for our farmers, what steps could the federal government take to support SA growers to meet biosecurity standards in emerging export markets?

Mr LITTLEPROUD (MaranoaMinister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management and Deputy Leader of the National Party) (14:19): I thank the member for Mayo for her question and her advocacy for her producers in South Australia. She is very passionate. I can assure her that we have already started. The federal government has committed $850 million, with respect to biosecurity. The federal government's responsibility is around maintaining our borders and protecting us from those threats to our biosecurity that could cost us significant amounts of money. We'll continue to work through that.

When it comes to fruit fly in South Australia, we've started with specific programs. There's over $16 million in a harmonisation program with other states to ensure that the biosecurity protocols between states are adhered to and monitored and, in fact, that farmers on properties work together from one side of the border to the other.

We're also looking to the research and technology—the new jobs; the sexy jobs—within agriculture. We've invested over $2 million into breeding and spreading sterile fruit flies to ensure we reduce the numbers of fruit flies across South Australia and the country. That's the sort of investment that we want to make—real investments in reducing the number of fruit flies and the threat to South Australia in particular. We'll work and continue to work with the South Australian state government in a cooperative and collaborative way in seeing if there are measures that we can take. I appreciate the fact that industry in South Australia are putting their hands in their pockets. It's important that we work together—industry and state and federal governments—in trying to continue to improve our opportunities to export the best food and fibre around the world.