Grievance Debate: ADELAIDE HILLS FRUIT GROWERS


Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (15:22): I want to take this opportunity, as I have on many occasions over the last eight years, to pay tribute, just before Christmas, to the cherry growers in Morialta, in particular, and other primary producers. I will start by touching on the apple and pear industry, which is very important to Morialta, both in its current boundaries and particularly after the redistribution.

About four weeks ago in late October apple and pear growers in the Adelaide Hills were hit by a concurrence of five or six storms over the course of a night, and woke on the following morning to discover that for many of them their livelihood for the next 12 months was put into severe jeopardy. The hail strikes that had hit much of their fruit as it was growing damaged that fruit such that when the fruit was fully grown it would be unable to be commercially sold in supermarkets because of the level of quality supermarkets require for fruit to be on their shelves.

I was joined by the member for Chaffey, the shadow minister for trade, the shadow minister for agriculture, Senator Anne Ruston, the federal Assistant Minister for Agriculture, and the minister at Lenswood Cold Stores. We had discussions with growers, Susie Green, the staff representative, and Ashley Green, the president of the Apple and Pear Growers Association, and we visited a number of farms in my electorate.

It was devastating for this community, and there are a number of measures that the Liberal Party is taking in the years ahead that will help in these matters and help them recover. We are going to make it much easier for them to get up netting; farmers who had nets up had, by and large, much less damage than those who did not. Unfortunately, on this occasion one of the problems was that a lot of the farmers had nets but, because they have had issues with pollination, they were open. That is a serious problem.

There are serious impacts for this community and we are going to be working very hard over the next 12 months to ensure that two things, in particular, happen. The first is that everyone always looks for the opportunity to buy local; sometimes there is only local produce available, but you need to remind people that they need to be buying those apples and those pears.

Secondly, we need to be talking to the supermarkets about the grades of apples that they are going to be accepting. If something has a couple of blemishes on it because there was a hail strike when it was a young fruit, it is still a beautiful apple to eat, and it is important that supermarkets understand that. If we need to put some work into public relations to encourage people to buy those apples, even if they have a couple of blemishes, then we need to do that.

I will move on to the cherry season. I am very pleased to be an ambassador for the CherriesSA. It is a very exciting time. We know Christmas is coming when you can go up into the Adelaide Hills, up Norton Summit Road or Old Norton Summit Road, or Montacute Road, or the Basket Range Road and the orchards and packing sheds are taking cherry sales. You can pick your own. I particularly want to draw to members' attention and in fact all South Australians' attention to the Cherry Map which CherriesSA has this year put out so that people can experience a day in the Hills and know where they can go to try somewhere new. I encourage all members and all South Australians to try somewhere new. Buy a kilo of cherries this summer.

Particularly in the Morialta electorate, I want to pay tribute to those 'pick your own' places: Everlong Orchard in Forest Range, Cheron Enterprises in Lenswood, Forest Range Cherries, Marble Hill Cherries, Plummers Border Valley Orchards and Stella Creek. Those that have shed door sales and 'pick your own' include the Organic Cherry Farm at Cherryville, Cherrytime Orchard at Lobethal, Harrisville Orchards at Lenswood, Lennane Orchards at Montacute and Masons Orchards at Forest Range.

Shed door sales only include Cowlings Cherries, the cherry farm that I have been visiting pretty much every year for the last 30 years or so to get my first box for the season; John and Gill Cowling on Old Norton Summit Road; Ellimatta Orchards in Lenswood; Kenton Valley Cherries, which has a fantastic cafe there; the Norton Summit Farm; Montacute Valley Orchard, the Green family do a wonderful job and they also have a cafe and they make their own ice cream; Torrens Valley Orchards at Gumeracha; and Wotton’s Cherries at Uraidla.

Congratulations to all those growers who make a really good contribution in our community. It is particularly good news this year, thanks to the work of the federal government. Again, I thank Senator Anne Ruston for the work she has done in ensuring that cherries can now be taken into China much more easily. So they can be picked, put on a plane and sold in China as a result of the work that the federal government is doing in this area. Particularly for an orchard like Torrens Valley Orchards, that is going to mean hundreds and hundreds of extra jobs, lots of export dollars, but it will also improve the market in South Australia for the rest. That is great news for cherries. I hope everyone enjoys their Christmas.