During September Prime Minister Scott Morrison came to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland to see the resilience and innovation being displayed by our local strawberry growers. The Prime Minister visited Ashbern Farms with me, to see both their fields in Glasshouse Mountains and their packing facility in Beerwah. While he was here in our electorate of Fisher, the Prime Minister announced a package of $350,000 to communicate with and train people throughout the fruit supply chain to make sure that the action that fruit producers are taking to keep their food is safe is appreciated. This will help the industry to recover as quickly as possible.
At Ashbern Farms we saw the metal detectors that the growers Brendan Hoyle and Jon Carmichael have put in to ensure that they can catch any contaminated produce. It is exactly this kind of innovation that the Government’s new funding will help to make the most of. I have visited local strawberry growers both large and small here on the Sunshine Coast in recent weeks and it has been heart-breaking to see how tough the impact of this criminal sabotage has been for many of them. Our Federal Government has acted quickly and decisively by passing legislation to increase the maximum penalties for anyone engaging in these cowardly acts to 15 years in prison. We have also allocated $1 million to put more food safety officials on the ground, to increase detection and fast track recalls when they are requested by State and Territory Governments.
The Prime Minister then went on to meet around 100 local residents at the Caloundra Power Boat Club. It was great to see so many members of the community out to hear from the Prime Minister, so thank you to everyone who came along. I think the PM showed us all exactly why he has done such a fantastic job in his first weeks in the role. He spoke inspiringly about our Government’s values, which are the values that Australians share and respond to, and some of the things that the Government has delivered here on the Sunshine Coast.
I continue to regularly invite Ministers to Fisher because I think it is critical to ensure that senior members of the Government see firsthand what is happening in our community and become personally invested in the issues that local residents face.