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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 2 May 2006) . . Page.. 1026 ..

I conclude by thanking members for their support of the bill. Also I would like to thank officers of the department for their compassion, which is expressed in this bill. I comment the bill to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Pest Plants and Animals Amendment Bill 2006

Debate resumed from 30 March 2006, on motion by Mr Hargreaves:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (11.59): This bill makes it an offence under the Pest Plants and Animals Act 2005 to import into the ACT a prohibited pest plant or something contaminated by prohibited pest plants. Importation is not dealt with currently in our legislation. Another amendment specifies that propagating a plant includes actually planting the plant, which is pretty sensible when you think about it. However, apparently this was not covered. The unlawful sale of a pest plant is also prohibited.

The bill supports a coordinated approach by government and community activities to deal with weed infestations in the ACT. I understand that in the past the government consulted with nurseries, which voluntarily ensured that sales of pest plants were restricted. But unlike other jurisdictions, we did not formally have something in legislation. I think it is crucially important that steps are taken here to ensure that prohibited plants are not brought into the territory.

I can recall as a young person going to Victoria and being quite surprised—I thought it was a good idea—to find that, in order to prevent fruit fly from being brought into the state, people were required to hand over any fruit they had to inspectors. Quarantine restrictions like that are very important, and this also applies to pest plans.

I think the government needs to ensure, particularly as it looks like we are going back into a drought-type situation, that it is vigilant in stopping pest plants coming into the ACT and that it adequately controls any pest plants that may already be here. I am thinking particularly of Paterson’s curse, which grows very easily in the ACT and out on the south-western slopes. It is obviously very difficult to completely eradicate this plant because, as much as anything else, the seeds tend to blow into the ACT. I was concerned several years ago to see a lot of Paterson’s curse in some paddocks the government actually had responsibility for. Indeed, a number of horses died as a result of eating Paterson’s curse. That is just one example being ever vigilant in the need to eradicate pest plants which can be fatal to animals. These plants certainly degrade paddocks and it is crucially important to always be vigilant.

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