ABA and other peak beekeeping organisations meet with government
Negotiations continue between the state government and the three major beekeeper groups in NSW. At stake: a workable biosecurity system that embraces all beekeepers across the state.
During a meeting last Friday, representatives from the Department of Primary Industries offered a small concession to beekeepers, altering the government’s original proposal (which was to charge every beekeeper at least $90 to register every two years) to allow beekeepers with 0 to 2 hives free registration.
This offer was rejected by the beekeeping groups at the meeting: the ABA, North Shore Beekeepers Association, and the Apiarists Association of NSW. The groups are pushing for free registration for small-scale and unregistered beekeepers, a reduction in fees for beekeepers with small hive numbers, a formal consultative process, access to DPI registration records to support compliance, and recognition of ABA/NSBKA as sources of education, compliance and support.
The meeting was scheduled after the ABA and NSBKA had written to Scott Hansen, Director General of NSW DPI and to the Minister responsible for DPI, Niall Blair. Beekeepers had voiced their alarm at the way the proposed hike in beekeeper registration fees would damage biosecurity.
At the meeting:
- Bruce White, Dave Wilson and Doug Purdie, representing ABA
- Michael Syme, representing North Shore Beekeepers Association (NSBKA)
- Shona Blair, representing NSW Apiarists Association (NSWAA)
- Hollie Baillieu, Senior Policy Advisor to Minister Niall Blair
- Scott Barrett, Projects and Policy, DPI
- Dr Chris Anderson, Manager Plant Biosecurity Prevention & Preparedness
Shona Blair submitted a paper from the NSWAA strongly supporting the ABA/NSBKA position. In fact, commercial apiarists are so against the DPI proposals that they are offering to pay increased fees themselves to part offset any reduced revenue to the DPI if recreational beekeeper fees are dropped.
It was noted that in Queensland only beekeepers with an ABN pay registration fees. Does this work? In Townsville during the recent incursion of Apis cerana, extensive surveys of bee populations discovered only 2% of beekeepers there are not registered.
Beekeeper representatives were emphatic that the DPI’s proposed $120 flat fee ($90 if paid online) is unacceptable, and that most recreational beekeepers have seen little if any return in services from the DPI over recent years.
The meeting finished with DPI representatives leaving to consult further. A follow-up meeting will be scheduled soon.
If you have any comments about this process, please contact Doug Purdie at email@example.com
“A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY”
A National Biosecurity Roundtable was held at Taronga Centre in early August. This was a federal, NSW and ACT initiative aimed at bringing together representatives of the major agriculture industries to reinforce the concept that biosecurity is a shared responsibility. Bruce White and Dave Wilson attended representing recreational beekeepers. They took the opportunity to talk with key DPI personnel about our concerns about the proposed beekeeper registration fees.