Bugged By A Tree Bug Or Three

BMSB. I got acquainted with these four letters recently. I have two appropriate four letter words to voice my annoyance and discontent about it. Bull shit. What is BMSB anyway? Googling it tells me it is a stink bug. Australia sees this little bug as a threat to her biosecurity. But, aren’t these little insects a free helper to farmers? Avoid the need for chemical sprays, just introduce these predators that feed on caterpillars, beetles and other stink bugs. What? Not all stink bugs are the same? I found out that it’s the spined soldier stink bug that loves to eat the brown marmorated stink bug. It is this brown bug that wants to come to Australia. Alright, I concede that the BMSB loves devouring plants and fruits, bad news for the farmers. My last shipping container from St. Petersburg has been stranded in South Australia’s fumigation centre since 30 November last year due to the BMSB season. A season usually means three months. But, this stinky bug apparently breeds for much longer. All incoming goods that are defined as “Target high risk goods” from USA and selected European countries need to be fumigated from 1 September to 31 May. “All?” I asked. As it turns out, no, not all. Fly them in by plane and these flies are inexplicably and magically no longer a problem. They cannot explain why the need to fumigate a shipment is suddenly not necessary if it comes in by plane. My educated guess is that the bugs are afraid of flying and will frantically fly off the plane’s cargo hold before take-off. For many weeks, the authorities refused to advise how long the delay will be except to say it may take up to fourteen weeks. They have only one fumigation facility in South Australia. This rust-belt state has eight hospitals in the metro area, five universities and wait for this, forty four stadiums and football ovals, but only a single fumigation centre. Two weeks ago, they finally informed me it may still take 4-5 weeks before my container of plastic and rubber products can be released. South Australia’s port can at best be described as third world standard when we compare it to facilities such as Singapore and Shenzhen. Will the Premier of South Australia address such ridiculous inefficiencies in our port? The impression of our state by many of my interstate customers is best left unsaid. My Russian supplier expressed incredulity that they failed to engage any import broker willing to help us have the ruling overturned. Plastics do not breed bugs – they are not “Target high risk goods”. Plastics fall under tariff classification 39 of the target risk group. Target risk goods are subject to increased onshore intervention through random inspections only; mandatory treatment is not required. But, no one in South Australia will challenge the decision for fear of upsetting the authorities. This will remind my Russian friends of their Soviet era inefficiencies, I suspect.

The reply from the Premier’s office still bugs me. “As you may be aware, biosecurity in Australia is a Commonwealth matter and falls within the portfolio responsibility of Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, Minister for Agriculture. Accordingly, please be advised the Premier is unable to intervene in or influence the matters you have raised.” Does he not recognise that this bug is causing such a long bottleneck that harms our reputation as a progressive state? What about the damage to existing businesses like mine? What about the deterrence to new businesses? How is it that a bug can impede trade and commerce for 14 weeks or longer? Bah humbug. Bridget McKenzie fell from grace three days ago, not from the stinky bug affair, but from the stinky sports rorts affair. She quit the front bench and resigned as Deputy Nationals leader after being found guilty of breaching ministerial guidelines. She was so forgetful she forgot to disclose her membership in the gun club that she awarded a $36,000 sports grant to. I do wonder if she has any financial interests in all the fumigation centres around Australian ports. They are all doing a roaring trade, fumigating bugs that may not exist, especially on products that are not classified as “Target high risk goods”. This will continue to bug me whilst I am bled dry of my hard-earned money. The cost of fumigation is $560, monitoring and facility fee is $150 with a daily storage fee of $40. I am too nervous to do the sums, being sure as hell that I will feel a lot of pain when I am sent the bill. Urghhlings.

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