Latest Speeches

Oyster industry

Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (15:05): Too much, sir, at this time of the year—never mind, it is all part of the challenge. My question is to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. Will the minister waive government fees and charges for South Australian oyster growers, given they are expecting little or no income during 2018 through no fault of their own?

The Hon. L.W.K. BIGNELL (Mawson—Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Minister for Forests, Minister for Tourism, Minister for Recreation and Sport, Minister for Racing) (15:05): I thank the member for Flinders for that question, and that is something that we will definitely be looking at. We have done that for the Coorong fishers because of the problems that they have had down there. I want to congratulate the member for Flinders on the great way that he deals with issues in his area and the way we deal with the department: you can go straight to PIRSA and we get things sorted out. In fact, within the first week of—

The Hon. P. Caica: He is the best.

The Hon. L.W.K. BIGNELL: He is the exemplar. I’ve got to say that the member for Flinders is best on ground on your side of the chamber. He’s an absolute champion.

The Hon. T.R. Kenyon: You have upset Tim now.

The SPEAKER: The member for Newland is warned.

The Hon. L.W.K. BIGNELL: POMS is Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome, which hit Tasmania last year with devastating effect and, under the Livestock Act, I had to sign off on a declaration to not allow any oysters to come into South Australia from Tasmania after the outbreak of the Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome in Tasmania. What happens is that about 90 per cent of the spat, which are the tiny little oysters that are bought by the oyster growers here in South Australia, came from Tasmania and only about 10 per cent was produced here in South Australia.

What we did was we had SARDI grow more spat, we had the regional development minister put more money into boosting the spat producers here in South Australia and we have helped two other spat producers to set up business here on Eyre Peninsula as well. Overall, I think we have spent about a million dollars on the response to the Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome outbreak in Tasmania to make sure that we are sustainable.

The member for Flinders is right: the income of these growers—I was in Port Lincoln last week and I spoke to one of the growers over there—is going to be severely impeded, and production will be severely impeded in the next growing season as we have this gap. I want to reassure the member for Flinders that we will keep working with him. He and I were there within a week of that outbreak. We were sitting down in Port Lincoln with the oyster growers and with the association.

I know that there are some oyster growers over on Eyre Peninsula who don’t get on so well with the Oyster Growers Association, but I would really urge everyone to get united and come in under the one association. It doesn’t matter who we deal with in what portfolio area, it is always better if a region or a group of like-minded people have the one voice and the one association. I know that there are people sitting outside the association at the moment saying that the government hasn’t done this and the government hasn’t done that.

We have actually been doing a lot of work for the oyster growers on Eyre Peninsula but, if they are not connected to their local South Australian Oyster Growers Association, they are probably not getting that word filtering through to them. There are some good things happening. It is impossible for us just to magically make all this spat appear out of nowhere. It is going to be a slow process to make that happen, but we will be there working side by side and shoulder to shoulder with the oyster growers, as we do with anyone who gets hit by adverse conditions, like the apple and pear growers in the Adelaide Hills, who we announced $500,000 for to build a new extraction machine.

 

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