Billions of bees are at risk of being destroyed and an industry under threat as the Minister for Agriculture fails to respond.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Emma Kealy, is demanding the Minister for Agriculture, Gayle Tierney, take immediate action to quell the potentially catastrophic effects of a varroa mite outbreak.
Almost a week ago, the varroa mite was detected in Robinvale-Euston in Victoria’s north and the Minister’s slow response and silence on this issue is jeopardising the future of Victoria’s bee population and bee-keeping industry.
More than half of all food in produced in Australia depends on pollination to some extent, underlining the seriousness of the outbreak.
The Andrews Labor Government has had 14 months to develop a plan to safeguard Victoria after the varroa mite outbreak was first detected in Newcastle, New South Wales.
Yet, no plan or biosecurity measures were put in place to protect our state’s critical bee population and related industries from the spread of an outbreak.
The varroa mite is a small parasite that presents the most serious threat to honey bees world-wide. It feeds on young bees, causes adult bees to grow with debilitating deformities, spreads easily across hives, and ultimately kills entire colonies.
Australia is the only major beekeeping area of the world without an established presence of varroa mite, but our bees are now at serious risk because of poor biosecurity planning from the Andrews Labor Government.
Victoria, until now, was the only unaffected bee-keeping region world-wide unaffected by varroa mite.
When probed in question time today the Minister was dismissive and refused to answer a question on why there is no specific Victorian action plan.
Ms Kealy said the Government is underprepared to take on the fight against varroa mite.
“The Minister has underplayed the threat and hasn’t reacted quickly enough,” Ms Kealy said.
“All those involved are distressed and confused. They haven’t received any support or direction.
“This will have a devastating flow-on effect on food production in Victoria.”