Minister asleep at the wheel during fruit fly emergency
- Primary Industries Minister waited two weeks to call for help
- Commonwealth confirms Minister and Liberals failed on fruit fly urgency
- Labor will rebuild Biosecurity Tasmania where Liberals have failed
The Primary Industries Minister sat on his hands for over two weeks before calling for Commonwealth assistance to deal with Tasmania’s fruit fly emergency, Senate Estimates hearings have revealed.
“It is extraordinary that the Liberal Primary Industries Minister didn’t write to the Commonwealth until February 8, over two weeks after fruit flies were found in mainland Tasmania,” Shadow Primary Industries Minister Shane Broad said.
“Commonwealth officials confirmed that while a team from South
Australian had been deployed to Tasmania, no Commonwealth biosecurity
officers had been dispatched.
“Clearly the Minister’s failure to promptly seek help from the Commonwealth has not assisted Tasmania in developing a rapid response to this emergency.
“Meanwhile the fruit fly incursion has spread with an expanding zone across North and North West Tasmania.
“The Minister’s failure to act comes on the back of revelations he has signed up to a Memorandum of Understanding with Canberra locking Tasmanian into a reduced level of Commonwealth biosecurity funding
“He needs to explain the impact of Federal Government cuts to Tasmanian biosecurity operations and why he waited so long to contact Canberra seeking assistance.
“Commonwealth officials also confirmed that managing the incursion was a Tasmanian Government responsibility, leaving the Liberals alone with their claim of a “national system breakdown”.
“Twice during the Estimates hearings Commonwealth officials reiterated that the current fruit fly incursion is the Tasmanian Government’s responsibility, shifting blame back on to the State Government.
“While our farmers are suffering through this biosecurity emergency the Hodgman Liberal Government and the Liberals in Canberra refuse to take any responsibility and it is clear they have been too slow to act.
“Only Labor is serious about protecting Tasmania’s brand and our horticulture industry which is why we have developed a joint state and federal $5.7m response to employ additional biosecurity officers.”