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Thursday, 13 October 1983
Page: 1803

Question No. 418


Mr Simmons asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 6 September 1983:

(1) Has his attention been drawn to the rapid infestation of Paterson's curse throughout New South Wales following the easing of drought conditions.

(2) Is this also a problem in other parts of Australia; if so, can he advise what action the Government proposes, to control future infestations.


Mr Kerin —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) I am aware that the spread of Paterson's curse has accelerated in certain parts of New South Wales in the past few months following drought breaking rain.

(2) Paterson's curse is a declared noxious weed throughout Victoria and parts of New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.

The primary responsibility for the control of weeds rests with the individual landholder. However, in the case of weeds which are declared to be noxious, State and local Government authorities become involved in control programs. The Commonwealth has no direct responsibility for weed control, except in its own territories, but it may be indirectly involved in control programs through the research work of CSIRO.

CSIRO had developed a biological control program for Paterson's curse and made a trial release of insect control agents in July 1980. The program was subsequently suspended by a perpetual injunction taken out by two apiarists and two graziers and agreed to by CSIRO. This injunction prevented a continuation of the program and nothing further can be done by CSIRO until the injunction is lifted.

The Australian Agricultural Council, of which I am Chairman, is concerned about the future of biological control programs and at its recent meeting endorsed the preparation of complementary Commonwealth/State legislation for assessing and, where appropriate, approving proposals for biological control of any weed or pest species.

The proposed legislation is intended to provide for the nomination and advertisement of target species. It will allow for public enquiry and for appeal processes. It will also provide authority to release control agents and establish a method for Commonwealth/State agreement on proposals through the Australian Agricultural Council. Steps have been taken to develop the legislation but the timing of its introduction has yet to be determined.