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Thursday, 6 October 1983
Page: 1518

Question No. 416

Mr Ewen Cameron asked the Minister for Science and Technology, upon notice, on 6 September 1983:

(1) Can he state the current position regarding the biological control of Paterson's curse.

(2) Is he prepared to legislate to implement a biological control program for this problem.

Mr Barry Jones —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The program to control the declared noxious weed Paterson's curse (Echium plantagineum, which is also known by the common name Salvation Jane, in South Australia) was approved by the Australian Agricultural Council in 1979. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation began experimental field releases of a potential control agent, a moth imported from the mediterranean homeland of the weed, in 1980. It apears that none of these releases led to the establishment of surviving populations of the insect. Shortly after the program was begun four plaintiffs, two beekeepers and two graziers, succeeded in obtaining from the High Court an interim injunction preventing CSIRO from continuing with the program.

After protracted legal negotiations, the proceedings were settled before the Supreme Court of South Australia in June 1983. Under the settlement, CSIRO submitted to a permanent injunction restraining it from continuing with the program, but with liberty to apply back to the court. The latter provision was intended to cover the situation if subsequent legislation were to come into force positively authorising the program.

(2) The Australian Agricultural Council, at its meeting in August 1983, endorsed the development of complementary Commonwealth and State legislation to provide a mechanism for assessing and, where appropriate, approving proposals for the biological control of weed and pest species. Further action by the Commonwealth in relation to this resolution is the responsibility of the Minister for Health.