My question is for the Minister for Agriculture.
I recently met with a group of constituents involved in the horticultural industry who are concerned about the growing number of flying foxes in my electorate that are causing significant damage to orchards.
Can you please advise what action your department is taking or might be able to take in order to address this threat?
In the past flying foxes have generally passed through the region, but it appears they are now taking up residence and are nightly attacking orchards, seriously damaging fruit and causing significant economic detriment to our farmers. In May the population in Tatura alone was estimated at about 10 000. In 2014 the New South Wales government introduced a scheme to assist farmers to protect their crops with netting, and I believe that such a program could be of some assistance in Victoria. Flying foxes are listed as a vulnerable species, are an important part of the Australian environment and need to be protected, and I am of the view that it would also be prudent for this government to look into this situation.