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Sessional Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development Written Submissions Received Volume 2 Issues associated with the progressive entry into the Northern Territory of Cane Toads October 2003



Sessional Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development Written Submissions Received Volume 2 Issues associated with the progressive entry into the Northern Territory of Cane Toads October 2003

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Tabled Paper 1123


Tabled Papers for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; Tabled papers for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT




Tabled by Delia Lawrie


Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory under Standing Order 240. Where copyright subsists with a third party it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.




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Dr Freeland Written Submissions Cane Toad Inquiry Report Volume 2 150 12. There has been a tardiness in the application of regional planning procedures to regional land development e.g. the recent annual report noted production of a regional nature conservation plan for the Daly Basin, yet nothing seems to be being done other than a vacating of the moral high ground while land clearing begins. To become involved in a multi-year program of research with primarily scientific outputs would deny the greater conservation needs that are amenable to rectification. To become involved in multi-year research for biological control of the cane toad, properly a Commonwealth responsibility, would similarly be a diversion of pubic attention from the more serious issues (as well as being highly speculative). INTRODUCTION The Sessional Committee has received submissions providing much detail on the introduction of the cane toad, its spread and known and likely impacts. In particular the paper by van Dam, Walden and Begg (2002) provides a sound summary of current knowledge although the methodology leads to some unfortunate conclusions (e.g. black duck and the leaf-eating brush-tailed possum identified as possibly at risk when they are abundant throughout the cane toad's range in Queensland). Inevitably there have been developments since the paper was produced (Watson and Woinarski, 2003). It is not my intention to replicate this evidence. My intention is to: document the history of Northern Territory involvement in cane toad research and management (including research findings that would otherwise not be available to the Committee) over the past 20 some years; evaluate the state of knowledge of the cane toad, evaluate options that have been proposed for management of the cane toad, describe the types of research that could be done as well as what those researches would contribute to our understanding and management; and examine the priority of cane toad research and management relative to other nature conservation issues impacting the Northern Territory. Attachment A provides information on my background and involvement with cane toad research and management. Attachment B is provided for the committee's interest. It is from the minutes of the Seventh Conference of Cane Toad Pest Boards, held in Ingham, Queensland on 1 May 1937. The paper documents the status of cane toads in Queensland at that time and their response to the Commonwealth Government's order to halt further purposeful geographic spread of the cane toad. The Commonwealth's concern was that cane toads would consume large numbers of beneficial insects. The paper also notes that as yet there had been no noticeable impact of cane toads on the grey-backed beetle problem. I believe it is important to remember that introduction of the cane toad was conducted according to the procedures and understanding of the day. Procedures were similar to those involved in the introduction of a range fungi, microbes and insects for the control of prickly pear and other weeds. We know next to nothing of what these introduced organisms are doing now, and even the role of the Cactoblastus moth in prickly pear control is open to question. In simple terms Australia's currently rigid quarantine procedures are the consequence of a long process of learning through mistakes and

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