Pest and weed strategy only words at the moment

Pest and weed groups want to know how new state strategy is funded

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Flourishing prickly acacia bushes spreading out from the Flinders River are one of a number of biosecurity risks groups want to see funded under the state government's new pest and weed strategy.

Flourishing prickly acacia bushes spreading out from the Flinders River are one of a number of biosecurity risks groups want to see funded under the state government's new pest and weed strategy.

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A collaborative approach is how Queensland's agriculture minister has responded to questions of how the state's long-awaited invasive plants and animal strategy will be funded.

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A collaborative approach is how Queensland's agriculture minister has responded to questions of how the state's long-awaited pest and weeds strategy will be funded.

The Queensland Invasive Plants and Animals Strategy 2019-2024 was released last week, months after its operational stage had commenced.

Noting that invasive animals cost the Australian economy up to $1 billion annually, and that the cost of invasive plants to the Queensland economy is around $600 million each year, Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said the government would be working with industry, stakeholders and all levels of government to build on existing joint efforts to combat existing and emerging biosecurity threats.

The strategy outlines seven guiding principles, including capability building through education and awareness, prevention and early intervention, best practice and research, and monitoring and evaluation.

Mr Furner said a wide range of activities and programs were currently both funded and being undertaken by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and its stakeholders, which fall within the scope of the strategy, but Queensland councils are among those voicing concern that inadequate investment could see the strategy fail to deliver.

They are one of the government's main partners and the Local Government Association of Queensland says the strategy's good intentions needed to be matched financially.

"It's a great step in the right direction, but we need the strategy to lift from the page and turn into real outcomes if Queensland's $20 billion primary production sector is to be effectively supported," CEO Greg Hallam said. "Sufficient funding is critical to ensure the ongoing vitality of these industries in our regional communities."

Queensland councils are already investing $45 million each year in controlling invasive plants and animals and Mr Hallam said many felt current state funding levels weren't enough to ensure legislative obligations were met and the community's expectations of basic biosecurity integrity fulfilled.

Western councils in particular want to see funding to support the significant amount of money invested in exclusion fencing, continued funds for 1080 poison for councils to distribute, and an urgent financial commitment for control of prickly acacia following February's monsoon trough event.

Opposition agriculture spokesman Tony Perrett said it was time for Labor to stop just giving lip service to pests and weeds and start delivering.

"Forgive rural and regional Queensland for being a tad cynical when this strategy has been announced by the same minister who reneged on his promised $5 million to fight prickly acacia.

"This is political treachery at its worst in promising flood-affected landholders support just to turn around and lie by acting like you never did.

"Labor Minister Furner's pathetic track record on pest and weeds has just been a story of broken promises, delays and buried reports, just like the still-missing after three years parliamentary report into invasive weeds."

While not criticising the strategy, describing it as forward-looking and effective, AgForce said the delay in its release meant the state was on the back foot in dealing with biosecurity concerns.

Developed by the Queensland Invasive Plant and Animals Committee, it was presented to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in March, where it sat gathering dust for more than six months.

AgForce's QIPAC representative Ivan Naggs said that had been the latest in a litany of delays, smokescreens and broken promises by the state government in relation to managing invasive species.

"The $5 million announced by Mr Furner in March to be dedicated to prickly acacia management has not been fully delivered amid denials it was ever promised," he said. "We need the cogs to turn quicker if we are to retain biosecurity preparedness across Queensland."

Mr Furner's response showed an awareness of the scale of the threat, saying the state faced roughly twice the number of biosecurity incursions compared to other Australian states.

He said this made a high level of cooperation critical to Queensland's agricultural success.

"All Queenslanders share the responsibility to combat invasive pest animals and plants, and the Palaszczuk government will continue its collaborative approach to what should be a bipartisan and non-political issue," he said.

The story Pest and weed strategy only words at the moment first appeared on North Queensland Register.

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