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Thursday, 5 May 1994
Page: 352

Senator BELL (4.19 p.m.) —by leave—I support the motion that the Senate take note of the document. Specifically, I suggest that the Senate would be well advised to take note of page 6 of the annual report because it is on that page that we see the logos of the sponsoring bodies of landcare. I ask that those logos be noted, not necessarily to congratulate Landcare Australia on its work towards getting sponsorship, but rather to look at and think carefully about the appropriateness of this approach. The approach is written about on page 7 in these terms:

Consistent with the company's obligation to obtain corporate sector support as a primary means of funding awareness raising programs and assisting `on the ground' landcare group activity, the campaign for sponsorship has been maintained, with sponsorships approximately 21% higher than in 1991/92.

The value of sponsorships received and/or committed during 1992/93 was approximately $3.56 million.

I suggest that that is a reason for concern. The matter of the appropriateness of sponsorship for this activity has been raised elsewhere in the community. Senators will notice that the sponsors' logos on page 6 include Alcoa Australia; Ansett Australia; Australia Post; Australian Property Group; BBC Hardware; BHP; BP Landcare Challenge; Club Marine; CRT-Your Local Bloke; FIFA; Ford; Freehill, Hollingdale and Page; Gallagher Power Fence Systems; Monsanto chemicals; the national landcare program; Telecom Australia; Westpac; the Royal Australian Mint; BHP Steel Waratah—the fencing group—Uncle Tobys; and RELN Plastics. While some of those companies may claim direct and considerable advantage from using the products or being associated with the landcare movement, there are others which we should question. I would like to quote from—and I will table if necessary—a communication sent by Greening Australia to landcare group members. Part of the letter reads:

To help you maximise the survival rate and performance of your new trees, we are pleased to offer your group the chance to receive a FREE Tree Protection Kit, valued at more than $200.00, by simply becoming a member of Greening Australia.

These kits have been generously supplied by Monsanto Australia Limited, the makers of Roundup herbicide, as part of their support for Greening Australia and landcare groups. Each kit contains:

.one litre of Roundup herbicide by Monsanto.

.one litre of Goal CT residual herbicide by Monsanto.

.200 Sure Gro tree guards.

.Technical information on tree establishment and protection.

I would like to quote from a letter by the Launceston Environment Centre Inc. to the author of that letter from Greening Australia. In part, that letter reads:

Re: Use of Roundup and Goal CT Herbicides.

It has been brought to the attention of the Launceston Environment Centre that a circular sent to Landcare groups in Tasmania by Greening Australia. It came as a shock to discover that Greening Australia is both pushing and promoting the use of certain herbicides onto the Tasmanian community, whose involvement and commitment to the elimination of land degradation and the improvement of water quality is expressed through Landcare. It is precisely for the rectification and improvement of our abused environment that people work for and with Landcare.

Further in that letter there was an explanation of the problem with the use of these herbicides. I quote:

1. The use of chemicals may threaten the fragile ecosystems:

* Widespread use in catchment areas may contaminate water (the recent atrazine problem is one example) leading to an undue level of risk for the total environment (both human and natural).

* Such practices may not be consistent with the Precautionary Principle (ESD).

Another problem associated with that was as stated:

Reduced impetus for innovation:

* While chemicals are being used the `pressure' is off both Greening Australia and Monsanto to trial non chemical methods of weed control.

That includes anything, including the wonderfully appropriate use of superheated water, which is effective as a herbicide. It is used successfully in New Zealand and is being trialled in several places in Australia. In taking note of this document we should carefully mark the trend of the landcare program to generate income from sponsorships. We should be very careful about that.