Mainland ‘motivation to look after us’ on blueberry rust queried

INQUIRY: MLCs Ivan Dean, Josh Willie, Tania Rattray and Rosemary Armitage listen to Biosecurity Tasmania's Lloyd Klump and DPIPWE's Deidre Wilson in Hobart on Friday.

INQUIRY: MLCs Ivan Dean, Josh Willie, Tania Rattray and Rosemary Armitage listen to Biosecurity Tasmania's Lloyd Klump and DPIPWE's Deidre Wilson in Hobart on Friday.

Biosecurity Tasmania general manager Lloyd Klumpp has questioned whether interstate jurisdictions have the “motivation to look after us” when it comes to dealing with blueberry rust incursions.

Dr Klumpp fronted an upper house inquiry into blueberry rust on Friday.

Blueberry rust is a fungal disease known to infect blueberry plants, causing defoliation and, in severe cases, plant death.

It was first detected in Tasmania in 2014.

A total of 51 growers were said to have been impacted by the first incursion.

In July 2016, the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment and Biosecurity Tasmania declared that blueberry rust had been eradicated.

But a second incursion occurred one month later, as the disease was confirmed to have spread to commercial blueberry producer Costa’s Sulphur Creek farm.

And two new cases of blueberry rust were detected in North-West Tasmania in May this year.

Dr Klumpp said Tasmania was on the “receiving end” of diseases like blueberry rust, and rarely was the state the source of such diseases.

“To be quite blunt here, we’re worried about the motivation of other jurisdictions to look after us,” he told the hearing.

Committee chairman and independent Windermere MLC Ivan Dean told Dr Klumpp he had observed a discrepancy between Biosecurity Tasmania’s response to blueberry rust and its response to fruit fly.

“Your reaction to the fruit fly situation was absolutely commendable,” he said.

To be quite blunt here, we’re worried about the motivation of other jurisdictions to look after us

Biosecurity Tasmania general manager Lloyd Klumpp

“However, we don’t seem to have that same sort of an attitude or position with blueberry rust.

“Why do we have that difference of approach?”

Dr Klumpp disagreed that there had been a drastically different response to the two types of incursions. 

“We know that fruit fly shuts down our markets and has shut down our markets,” he replied to Mr Dean.

“I’m not underplaying the significance of [blueberry rust] at all.

“It is clear to us that fruit fly is eradicable.

“The science and the evidence strongly suggests to us that blueberry rust is not eradicable.”

The inquiry continues.