MATTERS OF PUBLIC INTEREST - Strawberry Industry - 19 September 2018

16 May 2019 2:19 PMSimone Wilson MATTERS OF PUBLIC INTEREST - Strawberry Industry - 19 September 2018

The strawberry contamination is a terrifying sabotage campaign that has far-reaching consequences across an industry that contributes around $130 million to the Queensland economy. We are all angry and I am sure that we in this House will all ensure the full weight of the law is brought down on the culprit or culprits behind this sabotage. They will be brought to justice.

This direct sabotage has sent the strawberry industry into chaos. Jobs are at stake and livelihoods may be lost. Queensland grows about 600 hectares of strawberries each year and there are approximately 150 growers involved in the industry in our state. Their farms range in size from 5,000 to five million plants. This is big business for some and the livelihoods of so many. This has to be the most soul-destroying situation ever faced by the strawberry industry.


The first discovery of a needle in a punnet of strawberries was in Burpengary, just down the road from my electorate. Since then reports of needles or pins in strawberries have occurred in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, the ACT and, more recently, Western Australia. Two of the farms affected by this sabotage are located within my electorate of Pumicestone, these being Oasis Berries and Delightful Berries.


This morning a young woman by the name of Stephanie, the daughter of the owners of Donnybrook Berries, posted a video of tonnes of beautiful strawberries being dumped. Stephanie wrote a gut-wrenching message which I would like to read. She said—


This is no doubt the worst thing to ever happen to my family. This here is a video of our strawberries being dumped, this here is worth more than you could ever imagine and within 3 days we lost it all.


My mum and my step dad have worked years to build the empire they’re sitting on now, they put all their money and effort in to build such a successful business.


They work hard to make the money for our family and to have these selfish individuals destroy it is just so upsetting.


My mum works day through to the night, controlling the shed and her 250 employees, making sure her strawberries are packed to perfection.


This will not stop my family from doing what they do best. If anything they’re going to do better.


Indeed they will, Stephanie. Stephanie’s post and video have now made their way to the Courier-Mail where it is reported a strawberry graveyard has been captured on film and this tragic reality of the needle sabotage crisis continues to unravel. I urge all members to watch this video which depicts the stark reality of what has occurred.


I, like many other Queenslanders, was pleased to see the opposition leader, Deb Frecklington, on Sunday urging the public to support our strawberry growers by continuing to buy strawberries. I want Oasis Berries and Delightful Berries in my electorate to know that my family will continue to buy, eat and enjoy their luscious fruit grown not far from our home. I call on everyone in the Pumicestone electorate to continue to support these businesses—to buy and eat locally grown strawberries. We know, as the growers do too, that we must be vigilant and cut the berries up before consuming them just as I did over the weekend for my family. The Queensland government needs to stand beside our strawberry growers—don’t let them go—just as the LNP will be.