MP to continue to fight for bee industry

Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack has vowed to continue to lobby for the eradication of the Asian bee.

Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Riverina branch of the New South Wales Apiarists Association in Wagga Wagga on Monday night, Mr McCormack said it was incumbent upon the Federal Labor Government to ensure that this pest was permanently removed from our shores.

"This latest incursion in Queensland, if left unchecked, could irreparably damage not only the honey industry but many associated agricultural pursuits as well," Mr McCormack told the meeting.

"The value of the honey bee industry to Australia is inestimable and needs to be preserved and protected."

Mr McCormack and many of his Nationals' colleagues wrote to Agriculture Minister Senator Joe Ludwig to stress the importance of funding an eradication program following the latest incursion of Asian bees, in Cairns, late last year.

"I cannot believe the Government has not taken this threat seriously and find it a disgrace it will not provide the financial support necessary to ensure that the Asian bee is exterminated."

This bee, of the particularly nasty Java strain, swarms a lot and has a deadly sting, according to bee experts.

Mr McCormack praised beekeepers at the annual meeting for their support of the 2nd March rally at Parliament House in Canberra where more than 200 apiarists throughout NSW lobbied for greater recognition for what they do and in particular for the need to eradicate the Asian bee.

NSW Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Service's Technical Specialist for Honey Bees, Doug Somerville of Goulburn, addressed the annual meeting and told those present that it was scientifically proven that the Asian bee was eradicable he also told the meeting that Australian bee keepers were the best at what they do in the world and needed the necessary support to continue their often unheralded yet very worthwhile industry.

At the meeting David Mumford of Narrandera was re-elected Riverina branch President with Don Jarvis of Wagga Wagga and Trevor Hubbert of Tumbarumba voted in as Vice-Presidents, John Smith of Wagga Wagga Secretary and Ron Fraser of Wagga Wagga Treasurer.

Mr Mumford told the meeting he was pleased so many local apiarists had attended the Canberra rally.

"Thank you for taking the time and cost of showing our decision makers what a mistake it is to allow another pest to enter our country that not only affects us but has other far reaching consequences," Mr Mumford said.

"Today I believe we are up to ten pests or diseases that we have to control to keep our hives in production.

"When we are a vital part of food production you have to wonder why our governments don't do more to stop any potential threat to our industry... after all it affects them too."

Caption: Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack (rear, second from left) discusses the eradication of the Asian bee with the Riverina Branch of the New South Wales Apiarists Association at its annual general meeting. Also pictured are (back, from left) Vice-President Trevor Hubbert, Vice-President Don Jarvis, NSW Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Service's Technical Specialist for honey bees, Doug Somerville: (front, from left) Secretary John Smith, Treasurer Ron Fraser and President David Mumford.

Cristy Houghton