Legislative Council Wednesday 20 November, 2019
Ms FORREST question to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Mrs HISCUTT
1) What measures are taken to ensure agricultural and roadside spraying with herbicides in rural areas avoids contact with bees;
2) Has the cause, or causes, of mass bee deaths in Tasmania over recent months been identified; and
a. If so, what was the cause of these mass deaths;
b. If not, when is the cause of the mass deaths expected to be known?
3) How is the potential negative impact on bees that agricultural chemical products used for spraying of weeds in rural areas monitored and prevented?
1) Biosecurity Tasmania provides services aimed at ensuring that agricultural chemical use and animal health and welfare practices are consistent with legislative requirements and community expectations.
The Department administers the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1995 which imposes controls on the handling and use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals in Tasmania. This involves spray contractor and pest control operator licensing, investigating alleged contraventions of the legislation (including spraying complaints and incidents) and authorising the use of certain restricted products.
All agricultural chemicals are assessed by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) before registration. The assessment addresses impacts to human health, animal health and environmental health.
Agricultural chemical products which may be harmful to bees have appropriate label instructions to manage this risk. Nearly all the label warnings with respect to bees are associated with insecticides.
Furthermore, in Tasmania under The Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1995, chemicals registered by the APVMA must be used according to product label instructions. Chemicals must also be applied in a manner which avoids spray drift onto neighbouring properties.
The Government places a high value on our State’s honey and pollination industries, which is why we are delivering on our $750 000 Bee Industry Futures Program. The Government will continue to work closely with the Tasmanian Beekeepers Association, the Tasmanian Crop Pollination Association, the TFGA, Fruit Growers Tasmania and others to ensure a strong, sustainable future for the Tasmanian honey and pollination industries.
2) Biosecurity Tasmania is investigating recent reports of bee deaths in North West Tasmania. The cause of death has not yet been identified, however investigations are continuing in an endeavour to determine the cause.
3) The potential negative impact of agricultural chemical products on bees is prevented by persons spraying these products adhering to appropriate product label warnings associated with bees.
In relation to roadside spraying, many Tasmanian councils allow residents to apply to be listed on a “No Spray Register” if the resident does not want the council to spray on the road reserve in front of or alongside their property.
The Department will also continue to work with landholders to ensure awareness of chemical usage in accordance with best practice, that is, in accordance with label and permit conditions.