Mr PASIN (Barker) (18:58): Mr PASIN (Barker) (18:58): We in this place all know the importance of biosecurity, but this motion in the House acknowledges it again and reinforces some pretty clear facts: 2.5 million containers, 122,000 air and sea vessels, 22 million passengers and 144 million mail items arrive in Australia each year; around 35,000 pest and disease border detections are recorded across biosecurity-regulated pathways each year; and the global and regional spread of pests and disease is accelerating as trade volumes grow.
So it’s little wonder that the Morrison Liberal government is taking biosecurity very, very seriously. Protecting our biosecurity status protects on-farm returns, access to overseas markets and our biodiversity, generating real, significant benefits for Australia’s agricultural industry, regional communities and the environment. The Morrison government expects to provide over $1 billion for biosecurity and export programs this year, an increase of nearly $380 million, or 60 per cent, since 2014-15.
From 2016-17 through to today, total Australian government expenditure for biosecurity and export services has increased 28 per cent in real terms. The $400 million biosecurity package announced in May’s budget this year is a critical part of the Australian government’s overall budget. It includes $84 million in funding for frontline on-theground measures to better manage the risk of pests and disease entering Australia, with a focus on known and emerging threats like swine fever, and an $80 million investment in modernising and improving Australian biosecurity technology. On 31 May, the government announced a world-first Australia-New Zealand trial of autodetection algorithms for 3D X-ray technology. There is also $235 million to improve our ability to detect and manage threats offshore.
Australia’s biosecurity system is a national asset focused on protecting Australian industry. We have a stretch goal of $100 billion of agricultural output by 2030. A key part of that is the Riverland citrus industry in my electorate of Barker. We produce $1.3 billion for the South Australian economy. That represents one per cent of our stretch target. Part of the reason for its success is that the Riverland was declared a regulated pest-free zone nearly 20 years ago. The pest-free area status means that produce from the Riverland can be shipped directly to international markets with recognised PFA status without the need for disinfectant treatments. It is estimated that those treatments would cost $4.2 million a year. Riverland citrus is exported to premium markets such as the United States, Thailand, Japan and New Zealand. All these markets would be at risk if we lost our PFA status.
South Australia is the only mainland state recognised as being free of Queensland fruit fly, from the east, and Mediterranean fruit fly, from the west. Our local industry has done an amazing job to maintain that pest-free status. Nevertheless, there have been outbreaks. The industry is not only battling right now the pandemic challenges around labour shortages and supply disruptions; there’s also a fruit fly outbreak in the pest-free area. Some growers estimate that, owing to the outbreak, their cost of compliance is running to $300,000 a year. It’s in the national interest to protect South Australia from medfly from the west and Qfly from the east to ensure not only that our local industry in South Australia is protected but also that South Australia acts as a buffer between the two jurisdictions.
South Australian industry and government have carried the burden of this issue for a very long time, both protecting the industry from outbreaks and eradicating the pests when they occur. South Australia has understandably taken that lead, but it’s right now that we need the nation to lean in and help us maintain that pestfree status