Prickly acacia funding goes missing

Show us the money: Prickly acacia funding goes missing


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SHOW US THE MONEY: Desert Channels Queensland field officers Lance Sidebottom and Jason Smith tackling the prickly acacia problem on Stamford Downs south west of Hughenden.

SHOW US THE MONEY: Desert Channels Queensland field officers Lance Sidebottom and Jason Smith tackling the prickly acacia problem on Stamford Downs south west of Hughenden.

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Funding needed to help eradicate Queensland's out of control prickly acacia problem appears to have gone missing.

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TEN million dollars in promised funding to help eradicate Queensland's out of control prickly acacia problem appears to have gone missing.

The prickly acacia crisis was made all the worse following the catastrophic floods across north west Queensland in February, which spread seed across previously uninfested downstream areas.

Prickly acacia is recognised as a major environment and production plant pest. The introduced species can make mustering livestock extremely difficult, chokes out pasture, and results in both soil erosion and stream degradation.

Degraded and unproductive country under prickly acacia.

Degraded and unproductive country under prickly acacia.

An estimated 33 million hectares of Queensland is currently infested with the weed of national significance, which is regarded as one of the worst in Australia.

Now the Lake Eyre Basin catchment area is at risk.

Former Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said in late March the funding would mean action on the ground from July 1. At the time Queensland Agricultural Industry Development Minister Mark Furner also acknowledged the highly-invasive weed posed an escalating threat, backing Queensland's $5m contribution.

However, the organisation charged with managing the weed crisis says there is still no sign of the money, despite mass germinations of the weed seed now occurring, particularly in the Diamantina River and its tributaries.

Desert Channels Queensland staff tackling the massive prickly acacia problem.

Desert Channels Queensland staff tackling the massive prickly acacia problem.

Desert Channels Queensland chief executive officer Leanne Kohler said a calculated million square metres of top soil had been washed down the Diamantina, which had carried the weed seed over a much larger area.

"We know where the prickly acacia is, but we don't know where the funding has gone," Ms Kohler said.

"Now is the time to address the problem, when it is most cost effective to do so. The residual chemical used is effective for four years.

"Why would we wait until until the problem it is out of control before doing anything."

Prickly acacia forms almost impenetrable thickets.

Prickly acacia forms almost impenetrable thickets.

In a rare show of bipartisanship the Commonwealth and Queensland governments jointly announced in late March they would invest $5 million each to create a $10m war chest to fight the major pest weed.

"We need to fight prickly acacia and this funding lets us do that," Mr Littleproud said.

"We know the floods will wash seeds downstream, so it's important we take action."

Mr Furner said the floodwaters would likely spread the weed even further and provide conditions that will allow it to flourish unless we take urgent action.

"That's why the state and federal governments are contributing $5 million each over five years to run the program through to 2023-24," he said.

RELATED STORY: 'Commonwealth and state put $10m towards prickly acacia fight'.

RELATED STORY: 'Post-flood prickly acacia spread revives weed inquiry call'.

RELATED STORY: 'Funding decrease threatens successful prickly acacia control program'.

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