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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 3068 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

I am told that in the drought of about 1982-83 a lot of feed was imported into the ACT from areas infected with Paterson's curse and that through the use of that feed and in subsequent years the seeds have been spread. The weed hit teams you mention are important. The removal of Paterson's curse is something that we take very seriously. Its ability to displace native species is quite amazing. As you mentioned, it is starting to appear all over the ACT. We are monitoring the spread of Paterson's curse and, through the allocation of our hit teams, making sure that where we can we take on Paterson's curse.

It would be of interest to members that for many years CSIRO has funded research into Paterson's curse. They are looking for biological agents that will control it naturally rather than at sprays. They thought they had a winner in the form of a butterfly but the butterfly, unfortunately, was a flop. The CSIRO are now testing to find out whether or not the boll weevil is a natural enemy of Paterson's curse and whether or not it can be safely released in the ACT.

MR WOOD: I ask a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Minister, why is it that many but not all property leaseholders seem to be keeping many of their paddocks free of Paterson's curse but the Government seems not to be able to do so? Are there not enough resources being allocated to the problem?

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, if you tour down the Cotter Road and other areas in rural ACT, you will see that some very industrious rural lessees have kept their properties as free as possible of the curse. There are some quite large paddocks out there that are covered in the curse. The Government commits its resources where it can to ensure that we take these things on through our ACT weed hit teams. They started work this year and will go through to March-April next year, ensuring that we meet the needs where they are.

Police Training

MR HIRD: Over a period of years I have admired and appreciated the excellent service that we have received from the police within the ACT. Some recent utterings by a member caused me some concern. I address a question to the Minister for Justice, Mr Humphries. Is the Minister aware of criticism which came from the member for Brindabella - and I trust that it had some foundation - that the latest recruits to the Australian Federal Police are inadequately trained? Is this criticism valid?

MR SPEAKER: Do you wish to leave the room, Mr Hargreaves? You do not need to put your hand up.

Mr Hargreaves: I will protect Mr Wood.

MR HUMPHRIES: I think Mr Hargreaves is owning up in advance of being named.

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