Monday, 27 May 2013
Durack Electorate: Cane Toads
Before I get onto the topic I would like to address this evening, I would like to respond to the member for Page's comments about the plight of cattle producers across Northern Australia and remind her and members of the House that we have a situation in Northern Australia amongst those cattle producers that is devastating. We have a combination of drought and lack of opportunity to sell the product of their labours because of government policy. We have a reaction from the Indonesian government that is further preventing the sale of those cattle. As a result we have cattle perishing in paddocks. We have a destruction of the environment because the surviving stock that cattle producers are loath to destroy are eating out the last vestige of grass. Whilst members of this place debate the issues of union members' operations in abattoirs, I think it reduces the whole debate to a farcical level that people in my electorate producing stock hoping to export them would find absolutely deplorable.
However, I rise this evening to speak about another deplorable situation, and that is the advance of cane toads across Northern Australia in a westerly direction. They are the scourge of this Earth, they are the enemy of all Australian native wildlife. Previously the Liberal Party has made a commitment prior to elections to address the challenge of cane toads in the Top End and has made substantial funds available to support movements like the Kimberley Toad Busters in their defence of the Australian fauna and their endeavours to prevent the advance of the cane toads. Whilst we are yet to make any announcement in this regard in the upcoming elections, I personally am fighting for a similar commitment in the coalition's environmental policy for this election.
In addition to the Top End cane toad program, the coalition is determined to do all that it can to limit the spread of cane toads through the Kimberley. The coalition has long recognised the issue of cane toad population. Last year Greg Hunt, shadow minister for climate action, environment and heritage, visited in Kununurra at my request to witness the great work of Lee Scott Virtue's Kimberley Toad Busters in Kununurra and he spent the night catching and humanely euthanasing those toads. Members of the House ought to be reminded that Kimberley Toad Busters now estimate their volunteers—around 8,500 members—have since 2005 removed close to 3.2 million adult toads from the system, equating to around 328 tonnes of toad biomass, and potentially prevented the breeding of around 15 billion cane toads by removing around 1,280,000 adult females from the system, with a conservative value of the community efforts since 2005 at around $7,987,200. Cop that.
The Kimberley Toad Busters have done everything except present them as bush tucker, I might add. They are now winners of 11 state, federal and international awards. They were finalists in nine other awards. They established a biodiversity recording and monitoring program 'What's in your Backyard?' now embraced by the WA Education Department. They established successful research programs and a 'Youth at Risk' positive outcomes program in Kununurra. They have embraced Aboriginal communities across the Kimberley and they are maintaining the frontline of resistance to the advance of cane toads.
Cane toads are destroying our fauna, they are destroying the top of the food chain, bungarras, Johnstone River crocs et cetera. It is something we must not ignore and we must in this House do everything we can to put resources into funding a finding of a biological solution to the advance of this incredible scourge of Australian wildlife.