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Australian states and territories in deadlock over fruit fly agreement

Despite several states experiencing millions of dollars in expenses as a result of fruit fly this year, state and territory governments are yet commit to a federal management strategy for the pest. In November the Federal Government pledged $16.9 million to deliver high-tech fruit fly management across Australia as part of Smart Fruit Fly Management measure.

States and territories were to sign up to the package with intergovernmental agreement and contribute additional funding. Federal member for Barker in South Australia, Tony Pasin, said no government had committed funding to the strategy so far: "This is something that needs to be finalised … the Federal Government has put a funding proposal on the table and now we're waiting on them [states and territories] to commit to us.”

"If we see consistent and continual outbreaks then ultimately our relationship and status with our trading partners will be damaged. There's been indicative support, but now we need formal support. We need the other thing, which is always the most difficult thing to achieve, and that is a funding commitment from each of the states."

Just weeks after the announcement SA experienced a fruit fly outbreak in the Riverland, an area internationally recognised as being fruit fly free. In Tasmania multiple fruit flies were detected in several parts of the state.

But despite the impact on SA, Minister for Primary Industries Tim Whetstone said SA would not sign off on the national agreement until the eastern states came to the table. He said he would meet with Victoria and New South Wales Agricultural Ministers in February, chaired by Federal Agricultural Minister David Littleproud.

Victoria's Government, however, said it is already invested in a $9 million strategy of its own funded until 2020.


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