In the past three weeks more than 300 drivers crossing into South Australia from Victoria have been slapped with on-the-spot $375 fines for attempting to bring fruit and vegetables into this state.
Last month, 232 drivers received fines at a random roadblock near Bordertown, while at the weekend another 60 people were fined at Yamba Quarantine Station just outside of Renmark.
The crackdown is part of the state government’s new zero tolerance approach in the fight against fruit fly, following a recent outbreak of Qld fruit fly in Loxton.
It also follows the discovery of more than 500 kilograms of fruit in 285 vehicles at Yamba across a weekend in mid-December.
Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone said this “flouting of the law” was putting Riverland industries and communities at risk of economic devastation and has resulted in there no longer being an option to declare produce at SA quarantine stations without penalty.
“Electronic signs have been put in place, as well as roadside disposal bins, to ensure the message is clear to motorists travelling into the Riverland to ‘Eat it or Bin it’ before approaching the Yamba Quarantine Station,” he said.
“If motorists ignore the warnings, they will be caught and penalised.”
Last week, additional staff were appointed at Yamba, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help police the new zero tolerance measures.
The state government has also committed to increasing the number of random roadblocks this financial year.
Horticulture Coalition of SA president Angelo Demasi welcomed the government’s new hard stance on zero tolerance.
“The figures show that the public were just not getting the message, it is alarming,” he said. “A harder stance needs to occur because fruit fly can drastically threaten a billion-dollar industry.”