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Wednesday, 30 June 1937

Senator ABBOTT (New South Wales) .- I wish to referto Item 3- "Entomology, £3,120", In New South Wales, and probably in theother States also, the grasshopper pest has. caused much damage to pastures whichsettlercan illafford to spare. There was quite a storm in New South Wales recently when it was suggested that certain birds , should be imported into Australia for sporting purposes. The outcry against the proposal had no effect on the State government, but I am glad that the Commonwealth Government realized the seriousness of the situation, and prevented the importation of birds which. . might become a menace to grain crops. Many remedies to deal with the grasshopper plague have been suggested, but none of the so-called remedies has proved effective, and the trouble is becoming more serious every year. Various pastures protection boards have advised the use of arsenical sprays, but little has been achieved by their use, partly because it is difficult to obtain proper co-operation by private landholders, and also because of the menace of large areas of Crown lands. Some years ago, when rabbits were a serious nuisance, land-holders resorted to poisoning; but they have since realized that they made a tragic mistake, because, in addition to rabbits, numbers of birds were destroyed, and the balance of nature being upset, insect pests and the blowfly scourge created new problems. Not only birds, but also a number of the natural enemies of the rabbits, such as native cats, tiger cats and iguanas were destroyed. Australia proceeded along sound lines when it introduced the Cactoblastis to cope with the prickly pear menace. The Cactoblastis, which is a natural enemy of the prickly pear, has saved from destruction millions of acres of land. I suggest that a world-wide inquiry be inaugurated by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. with a view to ascertaining what insectivorous birds could, with advantage, be brought to Australia to deal with the insect pests which are causing so much destruction. Steps should be taken along the lines suggested in order to restore the balance of nature which," through our ignorance and inexperience, has been destroyed.

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