$10m to fight off fruit fly
NEW figures show the fight against fruit fly has cost Tasmania more than $10 million – including more than $3 million in staff overtime.
The pest was first detected on Flinders Island in January and, following detections in the North and North-West, led to what has been labelled the largest single biosecurity action ever conducted in Tasmania.
The annual report for the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment revealed an unbudgeted $3.2 million was spent on staff overtime and allowances alone due to the fruit fly incursion.
A spokeswoman said the cost of the response totalled $10.14 million at September 30.
This did not include in-kind contributions of DPIPWE relating to human resources, finance services and IT.
Tasmania has a longheld status as being pestfree, and Fruit Growers Tasmania said the state’s international standing had not suffered since the fruit fly incursion.
Chief executive Stuart Burgess said: “We’ve got a long history of being safe, our produce being very biosecure in a state context, and that’s understood and respected by our trading partners.”
He said the industry continued to collaborate with the department, the State Government and Biosecurity Tasmania but there was not yet a figure as to the financial impact on the state’s growers.
He said some growers remained stressed, both in a financial context and through being in the control zones.,
“From their perspective they appreciate the support and yet obviously a number of them would be keen to see that support increase where it was possible but understanding there are constraints,” Mr Burgess said.
The DPIPWE spokeswoman said further assistance to go to fruit growers would bring the total direct assistance provided to $3.3 million.
She said there was also a concessional loan scheme and this year’s State Budget committed more funding for Biosecurity Tasmania jobs.
Northern control area restrictions are in place until January 9 and control area restrictions in the Furneaux Islands area until December 22.