An environmental disaster that’s costing the Australian agricultural industry $4 billion annually is worsening thanks to a lack of action from the State and Federal governments, according to Robbie Katter.
The KAP State Leader and Member for Traeger said the Turnbull Government’s allocation of half a billion dollars to the Great Barrier Reef in the 2018 Budget was a slap in the face to those on the ground impacted by the nation’s weeds crisis.
He said weeds were costing the Australian agriculture industry $4 billion dollars a year and one of the hardest hit areas was the Mitchell Grass Downs region in central Queensland.
“Every year graziers are spending millions of dollars managing encroachment of prickly acacia with little assistance from the Government” Mr Katter said.
“The Mitchell Grass Downs are a hugely valuable natural asset for Queensland and they are being overrun with prickly acacia.”
Mr Katter said the weed had spread in two decades in the region from 6.6 million hectares to 22 million hectares.
“It’s anticipated that 95 per cent of the Mitchell Grass Downs will be impacted by 2030,” he said.
Mr Katter compared the $900 million spend by federal and state government on the health of the Great Barrier Reef in the past 12 months to the less than $10 million for the management of prickly acacia.
“If governments invest in better management of prickly acacia, it will pay dividends through a more productive cattle industry as well as opportunities in advance biofuels,” Mr Katter said. “The government must look beyond the Reef and help western Queensland.”
According to Southern Gulf NRM prickly acacia (Vachellia nilotica) is the “scourge of the Southern Gulf pastoral industry”, a serious weed with major impacts on pasture production and the environment if it is allowed to dominate.
Introduced originally as a shade tree and for drought fodder, it has has adapted successfully in our environment, infesting millions of hectares of valuable grazing country.
“Left unmanaged, prickly acacia will form dense thickets, completely eliminating valuable pasture grasses and modifying the habitats for the native species that rely on grassland ecosystems,” Southern Gulf says.
“Prickly acacia spreads through paddocks in the gut of cattle that graze on the seed pods.”