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Tuesday, 3 April 1984
Page: 1093

Senator RYAN —Earlier today in Question Time Senator Maguire asked me a question concerning proposed Commonwealth assistance to South Australia to deal with the millipede infestation problem. Because the information I had from my colleague Mr Barry Jones was long and detailed I undertook to give that information to Senator Maguire. However, subsequently it was drawn to my attention that many honourable senators in this place would appreciate access to this long and detailed information on the problem of the Portuguese millipede. I now seek leave to have the information incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The information read as follows-

Funding for a joint Commonwealth/South Australian three-year study into the biological control of the millipede ended in December 1983. The funding was on a 50/50 basis.

The project involved the recruitment of a research scientist to CSIRO who had already studied the millipede for his PhD thesis. He spent the greater part of the three years in Portugal (the millipede's region of origin) searching for natural enemies that showed potential for controlling the pest in South Australia and studying their life cycles. The most promising organism identified was a parasitic fly whose larvae feed and pupate inside the millipede.

The next stages would be to collect supplies of the parasitic fly in Portugal, introduce them under quarantine into Australia, develop methods for mass rearing under laboratory conditions, test the fly's specificity to the millipede and whether it is likely to attack other hosts, make field releases in the infested areas, and monitor the effectiveness in controlling the millipede.

To keep the project moving, South Australia has offered to finance a $4,000 collecting mission to Portugal by the CSIRO scientist to gather supplies of the parasitic fly. It is intended that this will occur next August which is the most suitable time having regard to the reproductive cycle of the fly. The scientist would then supervise the project's succeeding stages outlined above which would be carried out in Australia rather than Portugal.

Although the scientist is presently in the early stages of a project on the biological control of pest snails in South Australia, he will work on the millipede project as necessary. This will represent a Commonwealth contribution to the solution of the problem in terms of time, expertise, and salary and operating expenses.

If further funds are required, at a later stage, CSIRO will approach appropriate authorities.