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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 4418 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

I do not have the contract and I have not looked at it. However, I am more than happy to give you the details of that, Mr Cornwell, in relation to the obligations that the contractor has undertaken and the extent to which they have been complied with.

Certainly, I think we need to understand a little about Paterson's curse, and I sought to explain that yesterday. To think that at this stage of the cycle of Paterson's curse that you can, as it arrives, just snap your fingers -as Mr Quinlan signifies-and wish it away or do some sort of Moses act of holding back the waves and the seas is ridiculous. There is no capacity on the part of Environment ACT or the ACT government to wave a wand and wish away the scourge of Paterson's curse this year, which we all admit and acknowledge is particularly bad and far worse than we have experienced in previous years.

It has always been bad and it has always covered the ACT, just as it has always covered almost all of New South Wales and just as it has almost always covered Victoria and South Australia. It is particularly bad this year because of the drought. It is particularly bad because of the bushfires. Certainly, it has represented a real management issue for not just ACT government land management but, indeed, for all lessees throughout the ACT and land owners in New South Wales and Victoria.

We are at the wrong part of the season to control it. It is a complete waste of time, effort and resources to spray it now. It is too late in the season to do that. It can be done earlier. As I understand it, ACT land managers essentially sought to treat those areas that they thought most vulnerable and most important to seek to control earlier in the year. But it is not just a case of going out and spraying the paddock if Paterson's curse is not appearing. It does not work like that. There is no effective method of controlling Paterson's curse other than pulling it out manually. Then it just grows again because seed survives for up to seven years. We are desperately seeking a biological control to deal with Paterson's curse and the scourge of it nationally.

It is a major problem. But to suggest that in some way we had the capacity to hold back Paterson's curse or to control its spread this year is just sheer nonsense. It simply misunderstands the nature of this weed. You simply misunderstand our capacity to control or to stop the spread of it.

Mrs Dunne: Ask the farmers who have been out spraying.

MR STANHOPE: I have looked at the property, Mrs Dunne. I have driven all around the ACT. I have seen rural lessees' properties completely covered from fence to fence with Paterson's curse. I flew to Melbourne last week and what one sees from Canberra to Melbourne is a swathe of purple. There is Paterson's curse over the bottom half of the continent. To suggest that the ACT government in some way was negligent or deficient, or that Environment ACT somehow failed because Paterson's curse appeared in the strength that it has this year is just utter nonsense-just interestingly, as is Mrs Dunne's fetish about declaring it a noxious weed or a pest under the relevant legislation.

What that would do, for no useful purpose, would be to penalise every single rural lessee in the ACT because of the obligations it imposes on them to manage it and the potential

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