​Joint Media Release

Historic agreement on red witchweed eradication

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce
Member for Dawson, George Christensen

9 June 2015

A response plan to eradicate red witchweed from Queensland has been agreed by affected industries and governments – returning certainty to producers and clearing the way for aggressive eradication efforts to begin. 

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, and Federal Member for Dawson, George Christensen, said the historic agreement gave producers currently affected by the detection certainty about the future. 

"For the seven affected property owners this is an extremely significant breakthrough as they will now have certainty ahead of this harvest season with response arrangements progressing," Minister Joyce said. 

"They're now able to get on with running their businesses whilst containing and eradicating red witchweed from their properties, knowing the actions they take and the extra costs that they incur in that process are covered under the agreement. 

"It is the first time in Australia that livestock and cropping industries have combined forces with governments to take this sort of decisive action against an exotic weed that could hurt our agricultural production as well as our environment. 

"I commend the Cattle Council of Australia and the live export industry, Grain Producers Australia and CANEGROWERS for their long term vision in supporting this response plan and for collectively contributing 50 per cent of the costs of putting it into action. 

"It is pleasing and appropriate that the industries that benefit the most from keeping this damaging weed out of Australia will contribute half of the cost of eradication." 

Federal Member for Dawson, George Christensen, said the agreement was good news for the affected property owners and the industry in general. 

"It was important to get the response right from the very beginning because there is so much at stake," Mr Christensen said. 

"Property owners have the most at stake and it is good that we can give them certainty about their future but it is also in the best interests of all agricultural enterprises. 

"Farmers and graziers should feel confident that a measured consideration and thorough response will protect the future of their industry." 

Minister Joyce said the response arrangements were negotiated in good faith with industry and all jurisdictions as there was no nationally agreed cost sharing arrangement that applied to weeds that threaten agricultural productivity and the environment. 

"Current scientific advice is that this detection can be successfully eradicated and we can't let an opportunity like that pass us by – we know that the United States has been trying for 50 years to eradicate red witchweed and has spent $250 million on those efforts," Minister Joyce said. 

"I want to thank the states and territories for their pragmatic approach to the red witchweed detection. Using the principles in other nationally agreed arrangements to guide the response to this detection has brought us a significant step closer to beating this weed. 

"The response plan will not work overnight. It will take a decade until we can be sure that the measures Queensland will implement will work." 

The National Management Group decision will be put to the Agriculture Ministers' Forum for final decision shortly. Industry contributions will also be confirmed by their relevant boards. 

Further information is available at the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website at http://www.daff.qld.gov.au/plants/weeds-pest-animals-ants/weeds/a-z-listing-of-weeds/photo-guide-to-weeds/witch-weeds

If you suspect red witchweed on your property please contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or report via the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881. 

The National Management Group communiqué is available on the Australian Department of Agriculture website agriculture.gov.au/about/media-centre/communiques/nat-mgt-group-endorses-red-witchweed-resp-plan

The National Management Group for Red Witchweed is made up of representatives from all state and territory governments, Cattle Council of Australia, Grain Producers Australia and CANEGROWERS. Representatives from Animal Health Australia and Plant Health Australia also attended the meeting. The group is chaired by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture.