$10m to fight off fruit fly

Tasmanian Country - - CROSSWORD / WEATHER -

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.

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