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Friday, 3 December 1976

Mr SINCLAIR (NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Primary Industry) -It is true that there is a very severe plague across a large portion of the southern, western and central western areas of New South Wales and a threat of plagues migrating into northern Victoria. I am told that hopper bands are numerous and extend from Tibooburra and Trangie in the north to the River Murray in the south, with concentrations east of Narrandera, south of Lake Cargellico and east of Hay. There are a lot of these slow moving, low level swarms and they of course have a tremendous damage potential particularly where feed is short Many producers in these areas of New South Wales and northern Victoria in fact were unable to generate a wheat crop this year. Many of them are hoping to turn to summer crops, but the newly emerging summer crops are also likely to be at risk particularly as soil moisture levels have been recently replenished. The problem with control is that it has always been difficult to strike plague locusts sufficiently early. I am told that the New South Wales Department of Agriculture, through the pastures protection boards in the infested areas, has already mounted a spraying campaign using mainly ground based equipment. Aircraft at the moment are not being extensively used. Spray chemicals are being provided and the cost is being charged to the Noxious Insects Fund. There is also a levy on landholders to support the Fund. The Australian Government has constituted an Australian Plague Locust Commission. It has been designed to try to ensure that there will be a maximum co-ordination of effort between the States and the Commonwealth. I believe that this is very essential.

Mr Morris - I rise to order. To facilitate the business of the House, I ask the Minister to table the document from which he is quoting in answering the question. This would save the time of the House and would give honourable members the opportunity to ask questions.

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