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
Tabled Paper 1123
Tabled Papers for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
Tabled by Delia Lawrie
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Written Submissions Dr Freeland Volume 2 Cane Toad Inquiry Report 163 9. The recent DIPE annual report failed to provide the people of the Territory with any clear understanding of the outcomes of fire, weed and feral animals throughout the park system, a notable decline in accountability and transparency. 10. The Territory's system of parks and reserve rates poorly in terms of nationally agreed criteria of comprehensiveness, adequacy and representativeness when compared to other States and Territories. 11. The recent increase in turnover of Rangers within the Commission is undermining the experience and knowledge base (particularly T2 and T3 levels) for future operations. This, plus an apparent drop in attractiveness to outside applicants, appears caused by low wages relative to other jurisdictions, poor remote area support, poor remote communications and a significant decline in moral. 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. All of the above deficiencies are readily amenable to management. All have clearly and easily definable goals and objectives. All are in urgent need of attention. Relatively little is being done to rectify the deficiencies, many of which pose a far greater threat to the Territory's biodiversity than does the cane toad. Against this background I see the Territory having only a limited capacity to respond to the cane toad invasion. To become involved in a multi-year program of research with primarily scientific outputs would deny the greater conservation needs, and inevitably be viewed as an attempted diversion of attention from the more or equally serious problems that can be readily addressed. 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). My recommendations for Territory action in relation to cane toads are: continue the provision of information to the public so that people may be informed and supportive of government's actions; continue to remove accidental cane toad incursions well in advance of the existing range; continue to use signage and other means to limit the probability of cane toads being moved to islands; continue with and be more publicly accountable for the translocation of Quolls to islands; continue to examine the practicality of establishing a cane toad proof fence across the neck of the Cobourg Peninsula; and continue to support the Parks Australia and Territory park monitoring programs. These recommendations are not new, having been around for some -considerable time. They are however based on a balanced assessment of the cane toad's impacts relative to the other nature conservation issues facing the Territory.