Environment Agricult

Adjournment Pest Animal and Weed Control

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Mr WALSH (Murray Plains) (17:06:37) — (15 037) My adjournment matter this afternoon is for the Minister for Agriculture. The action I seek from the minister is that she adopt the very sensible solution put forward by the Liberal‑National parties recently to establish a dedicated invasive weeds and pest animal enforcement task force within Agriculture Victoria. Pest animals like rabbits and foxes are out of control in many parts of Victoria, and weeds strangle the productivity of our farmers and cost an estimated $4 billion through yield losses and product contamination across our nation each year.

But supporting our farmers and land managers does not seem to be a priority for the Andrews Labor government. That is probably because it happens in areas of the state that do not have tram tracks, so the Premier is not interested. You only have to look at the budget papers to confirm that the Andrews Labor government has been lacking when it comes to property inspections. The number of inspections conducted annually over the last four years has dropped under Labor, and that is a very real worry for our farmers and our land managers. Not only has Labor cut the number of property inspections taking place, but under the Andrews Labor government laws that are already in place to protect private land and public land are not being properly enforced.

Recently we made a policy commitment that would help fix Labor’s mess. Unlike Labor, the Liberal‑Nationals want to support Victorian farmers and land managers in the fight against weeds and pest animals. We have proposed the establishment of a new dedicated task force within Agriculture Victoria that will be there to properly enforce those particular laws. The task force would support the hardworking landowners who already manage weeds and pests on their properties. Landholders who do the right thing by controlling invasive species on their own properties should not have to put up with lazy neighbours who do not do the same on adjoining lands. There are lots of farmers who do the right thing. They spend a lot of money and put in the time and the grunt work to control weeds and pests on their properties, but all that good work is undone if recalcitrant neighbours flout the laws.

The Liberal‑Nationals’ ideas have been roundly welcomed by farmers and land managers, who are exasperated with the lack of action by the current Andrews government. The action I seek is for the minister to adopt this policy solution that the Liberal‑Nationals have put forward, and I ask the minister to commit her support for the establishment of a dedicated invasive weeds and pest animals enforcement task force within Agriculture Victoria to make sure all farmers do not have the problems with pest animals and weeds.

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