Page 1699 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 3 May 2005

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restricting the sale of known invasive species in the ACT. But, as it states, this is over a period of 10 years and after an impressive degree of persistence. This legislation changes that and makes it an offence to sell or recklessly supply prohibited pest plants or prohibited pest animals.

The legislation also provides for certain plants and animals to be declared as pests. Once declared, there is scope for the development of pest management plans, as well as capacity for specific pest management directions. Overall, it provides a legal framework to control and manage declared pest plants and pest animals.

I would here like to mention another WWF report, which came out only last month and therefore did not inform the government’s legislation—Making state weed laws work, an issues paper by Andreas Glanznig. This report states that state weed laws are weak, as they have overly narrow lists of declared weeds that are prohibited for sale, and they are generally reactive rather than proactive. The report argues that all naturalised invasive or potentially invasive garden plants should be prohibited from sale. WWF recommends that “all states and territories amend their respective noxious weed legislation to enable all agreed national important weeds to be prohibited for sale”.

The success of this new legislation in controlling and managing weeds will in part depend on the number of prohibited pest plants, and I hope some fresh consideration is given to this list and to making sure it includes all invasive plants. In the context of pest plants, I like the precautionary element of the Western Australian legislation, which assumes that “plants are guilty until proven innocent”.

The report also argues that, with the exception of Western Australia, it is possible to legally import a vast number of plants without any form of risk assessment. The report uses the example of bearskin fescue, an ornamental tussock grass that went on sale through a major wholesale nursery in Victoria last November although it has the potential to become a grazing and environmental weed. By contrast, in Western Australia its import was subject to a risk assessment under plant quarantine laws. That risk assessment confirmed its potential to invade south-western Australia, most of Victoria, the New South Wales tablelands—no doubt the ACT—and north-east Tasmania. Consequently, bearskin fescue is now a prohibited import in Western Australia. That is a quarantine issue. However, it does highlight how we might still be creating new weed problems.

It is also important to remember that legislation is just one part of managing weeds; we still need to do all the other things that are part of the ACT weeds strategy. The Greens support a review of the effectiveness of the ACT weeds strategy and the ACT weed control program. The weeds strategy was agreed to in 1996 and was a 10-year plan, so it is timely to have a review. We have done a lot over the last nine years, but a review will provide an opportunity to assess where we are and what more needs to be done. Furthermore, we need to ensure that nurseries are brought into this process to reduce weeds and that they do not feel as though the legislation is imposed upon them.

I understand that the Conservation Council supports this legislation. I do not believe that the bill is contentious and I am pleased to support it; but, as noted earlier, I will move some amendments in the detail stage that will make the legislation more robust and able

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