Territory Stories

Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 20 March 2018



Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 20 March 2018

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Parliamentary Record 11


Debates for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2018; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Tuesday 20 March 2018 3433 measures, and I see this bill as a critical part of keeping us up to speed with best practice for preventative maintenance to make sure we do not get ourselves in those situations. This legislation, and subsequent education around it, will ensure regulation through these industries is strong enough that we stop outbreaks from happening. Our near neighbours to the north will lean more heavily on us over the coming years and our sustainability and acute ecological balance will become more important into the future. I thank the minister and commend his hard-working staff, as well as those from other departments, who worked tirelessly to not only bring this legislation to the House, but to keep our Territory as pristine as possible. I commend this bill to the House. Ms WAKEFIELD (Territory Families): Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak to this bill. It is easy to be complacent about biological control, but it is important that it is contemporary and focused. I note that this is the first time in 30 years that this bill has been reviewed. As other members have noted, the impact of pests and weeds going awry is significant. We need to acknowledge the environmental, financial and community impacts that pests have. Almost everyone has talked about rabbits at some stage today and their memories of rabbit control, particularly those of us in the 40-plus range. That shows the impact rabbits were having on our community when the myxomatosis control was not in place. There was a massive issue with rabbit plagues across Australia. That had an impact for a long time. My father cannot eat rabbits to this day because he ate so much rabbit as a child. He feels nauseated by the thought of it. We know the devastation rabbits had on our environment, not only our farming country down south butas I was preparing this speech I was thinking about when I was very lucky to work for NPY Womens Council in South Australia. I was paired to work with a woman from Amata. She has passed away so I will not name her. I remember sitting with her and looking at a very important digital archive, called Ara Irititja, that is part of the NPY womens service. Her favourite photo in that archive, which she would often show me, was of her mother. Her mother was a very important cultural woman who founded NPY Womens Council and was a strong part of the land rights movement. She was also an amazing rabbiter. There is this fantastic photo of her with her arm halfway down a burrow, pulling out rabbits. There were 20 rabbits next to her that she had pulled out of the burrow with her digging stick that would normally be used for getting honey ants. We cannot go backwards and forget the devastation that rabbits had on our land. It is easy to forget. Last Christmas I was in inner city Melbourne, far away from any impacts of rabbits, and a friend of mine was talking about how she had been arguing with her vet about a myxomatosis vaccine for her beloved pet rabbit. I thought, Gosh, how quickly we forget the devastation and go down a path of not finding the science and not having the right biological control. We have had to work so hard to make sure that biological control has worked. We have had to do several things on top of the original virus. The minister spoke of those in his speech. Yet, we are already starting to have conversations about how our beloved pets at home become safer in this environment. We cannot allow that to happen. That is why it is essential to have a national approach based on science, evidence and the big picture, away from the emotion, to make sure we get the outcomes we need and do not end up in the same circumstances as the 1930s and 1940s, as the Member for Brennan said. There were also major issues with rabbits in the 1970s and 1980s. That is why it is important to have a national approach. I live very close to the tri-state border. The story I was telling about rabbits was in South Australia, but it impacted the Northern Territory as well. Because we live so closely in those tri-state areas, we know the impacts and how quickly things can be tracked across state borders. These are problems that know no state borders. Therefore, we need to have a national approach that is consistent and evidence-based. We need to ensure we are thinking broadly about the terms of biological control, because there has also been biological control that has gone horribly wrong. We need to ensure we are not having unexpected impacts on a range of other animals. I will not talk about cane toads because, quite frankly, they creep me out.

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