Thursday, 15 February 2018
Questions without Notice
I thank Senator Urquhart for her question. The Australian government takes biosecurity very seriously. It's one of the most important investments we make to protect our reputation in agriculture right around the world. That is why we have boosted spending on biosecurity to more than $750 million a year now. In terms of the specific question you asked, my understanding and the advice I have is that the money the Australian government is spending on those services is lower, but it's lower because we're getting the same service for a lower fee. Exactly the same service is being provided with those services in Tasmania but for a lower fee. We try to do that because we get efficiencies—to spend more on biosecurity as well. I note that as a result of this particular detection of fruit fly in some parts of Tasmania the Hodgman government is providing a $2 million industry support package to affected growers, distributors and retailers of fruit. We are also doing what we can to ensure that market access for Tasmanian farmers is maintained as much as possible, as you'd expect us to do. The specific response to fruit fly is primarily a responsibility of the Tasmanian government, but we are assisting them with contacts overseas to ensure that markets are informed of the current situation and that we can maintain market access for Tasmanian agricultural products.