The Liberal Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell has called on the Andrews Labor Government to provide urgent funding to continue the Goulburn Murray Valley Fruit Fly Project (GMVFFP), amid fears the State Government has walked away from the program.
Funding for the project expires on 30 June and Agricultural Minister Jaclyn Symes has so far failed to announce any continued funding for the project to continue into the future, placing in serious jeopardy the region’s fruit export industry and spelling the end for many local growers.
The Goulburn Murray Valley Fruit Fly Project was established in 2017 and since that time has caused a dramatic decrease in the population of the destructive Queensland Fruit Fly in the region, protecting the area’s more than $760 million horticultural sector.
It is estimated the work of the GMVFFP over the last three years has reduced fruit fly numbers by more than 73% in Cobram and by 60% across the Greater Shepparton, Moira and Strathbogie local government areas.
The Project has been so successful that its achievements were recognised at last year’s Victorian Regional Achievement and Community Awards where it took out Regional Achiever of the Year as well as the Agricultural Innovation Award.
When previously questioned by Ms Lovell on 4 March regarding funding for the GMVFFP, Ms Symes herself heaped praise on the program stating “There will be further announcements in relation to this program, but it has been a very successful program…”. Yet with less than 20 days before funding runs out, no announcement has been forthcoming from the Minister.
Ms Lovell said that a decision by the Andrews Labor Government to discontinue funding for the GMVFFP will see a dramatic rise in the Queensland Fruit Fly population with catastrophic results and called on Ms Symes to urgently fund this important program past 30 June.
Comments attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell:
“The impact the GMVFFP has had reducing the population of Queensland Fruit Fly in the Goulburn Murray region, in some instances by more than 70%, is unquestioned and the program is vital to protect our precious fruit export industry.
“This award-winning project plays a crucial role in our horticultural industry and without State Government funding will be forced to cease its crucial work, leaving our quality produce vulnerable to this dangerous pest.
“This will be disastrous for local fruit growers and the entire Goulburn Murray economy and I urge the Minister to provide this funding now so the GMVFFP can continue post 30 June.”
Media Contact: Jason Kelly 0413 103 240 email@example.com