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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3246

Mr O'DOWD (Flynn) (13:55): Mr Speaker, if you have never heard of myrtle rust, you soon will. Myrtle rust attacks plant species including eucalyptus, paperbarks, bottlebrushes, tea trees and lilly pillies. It causes defoliation, dieback and even plant death. It was first detected in New South Wales in 2010 and is thought to have been spread up the east coast by a major plant retailer. Since the disease has hit Queensland, over 1,100 cases have been discovered, spanning some 19 different council shires. Biosecurity Queensland has listed this disease as being impossible to eradicate. It spreads on the wind, making any attempt to contain it almost futile. We know that myrtle rust will significantly impact threatened plant species and dependent native fauna such as koalas, gliders and insects.

Myrtle rust has most recently been found in Gladstone itself. Environmental factors also appear to have little impact on its survival or its spread. Given the ability of myrtle rust to spread so aggressively and the scope of its impact, I believe that there must be a national response to this threat. More funding is required to support the state government in its efforts to learn more about the disease and perhaps find a way of controlling it or eradicating it altogether. At this point there is no known way of doing either without great effort.