QUEENSLAND’S shadow environment minister, Dr Christian Rowan, has called on the Palaszczuk Government to provide funding certainty for local landholders to continue their successful battle against Prickly Acacia at a crucial time.
Member for Gregory, Lachlan Millar, hosted Dr Rowan on a guided inspection with Desert Channels Queensland staff visiting Auteil and Leichhardt Farms in the Aramac District on October 27.
“Western Queensland’s Mitchell grass plains are one of Australia’s most iconic landscapes, and since 1957 this declared noxious weed has been spreading uncontrollably across it,” said Mr Millar.
“It is hard to envisage damage on a 23 million hectare scale, so it was great to have the Shadow Minister come and see for himself. I think a good analogy is the Crown of Thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef. Prickly Acacia has the same effect on this natural grass ecosystem and, in the bad infestations, we have lost 100 per cent of the grass,” he said.
Dr Rowan said it was devastating to learn that only three or four years ago, the weed tree had gained such momentum that it covered 23 million hectares and looked like capturing the entire Lake Eyre catchment.
“You couldn’t design a better noxious weed for this ecosystem if you tried,” said Dr Rowan. “It is drought tolerant and seeds prolifically after wet seasons like the one at the end of 2010. The seeds also have a long life. This is why persistence is critical now. Hopefully western Queensland is emerging from drought, which is when Prickly Acacia can just take off again. Uninterrupted funding is crucial,” he said.
Mr Millar said while he was battling to secure funding, the fact that eradication could now be considered a feasible goal makes it more important than ever that the government provide funding to continue the fight.
“A pause now would be disastrous,” he said.
“This is a great, unsung environmental story of which most Australians would be unaware. But we haven’t reached the end of the song yet, and we need to see it right through to the end if we are to truly succeed” said Dr Rowan.
“I call on the Queensland Government to give the program continuing funding so it can achieve that goal,” he said.
Dr Rowan congratulated DCQ on their revolutionary achievements over the last three years.
“I have been told that in just three years they have managed to kill 50 million trees with a 600 per cent increase in grass coverage, a 500 per cent increase in grass biomass and a 300 per cent increase in grass species.
“Over 140 hectares of native habitat has been restored and 600 kilometres of streamline vegetation has been protected. We must press on, and DCQ needs to know the government will continue the funding so that staff can be retained and the program continues uninterrupted at this critical time,” he said.
Mr Millar said he would continue to press the issue with both the Minister for Biosecurity and the Minister for Natural Resources.
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