• Covert operation exposed fruit fly weaknesses
• Minister refuses to release report
• Were recommendations implemented in full?
A covert biosecurity operation exposed serious failings in Tasmania’s fruit fly defences just months before the state’s first major outbreak of the pest.
Today in Budget Estimates the Department of Primary Industries, Parks and Water acknowledged a secret test was conducted by Plant Health Australia last year.
The test involved covertly placing exotic fruit flies in traps in four states, including Tasmania, to test the response and processes of biosecurity authorities.
Today the Minister for Primary Industries, Sarah Courtney, refused to release the report.
However, her Department confirmed the test exposed problems with fruit fly traps and identified diagnostic failures.
Labor Shadow Minister for Primary Industries, Shane Broad, said fruit growers and Tasmanians generally had a right to know if the recommendations of the report were implemented in full.
“It appears that serious failings in Tasmania’s fruit fly defences were exposed just months before the state’s first major outbreak of the pest,” Dr Broad said.
“It is concerning that the Minister could not say when, or even if, the recommendations of the report were implemented.
“The Liberal Government has seriously underfunded biosecurity and we have seen the consequences in blueberry rust, myrtle rust, fruit fly, POMs and Norwegian salmon on supermarket shelves.
“Alarmingly, the Minister could not confirm when Tasmania would be fruit fly free and would not assure Tasmanian fruit growers there would be no more fruit fly found in Tasmania.”
Shane Broad MP Shadow Minister for Primary Industries