Prickle bush doublespeak ridiculed

State accounting of $5m prickly acacia spend derided as double talk

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From the air fresh prickly acacia plants can be seen thriving amid treated infestations. Photo supplied.

From the air fresh prickly acacia plants can be seen thriving amid treated infestations. Photo supplied.

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Confirmation by the Queensland government that it has reneged on its March 29 commitment to spend $5 million on combating the emerging prickly acacia forest in Queensland's north west has been ridiculed as political double talk.

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Confirmation by the Queensland government that it has reneged on its March 29 commitment to spend $5 million on combating the emerging prickly acacia forest in Queensland's north west supposedly because of the federal government's wording of the agreement has been ridiculed as political double talk.

Following the record flooding in the Flinders River system in February, the state and federal governments agreed to put $5 million each into a 'war chest' to address the problem but the state did not stump up that amount in the budget that followed.

Answering a question on notice from Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan on whether the government would honour the commitment, Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said he had previously answered the question.

"Original negotiations that I had with David Littleproud, the then-federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, around this funding commitment were that Queensland's contribution would be for existing and ongoing efforts in weed management and weed research, not for a new allocation," he elaborated. "This agreement was not reflected in the project agreement developed by the federal government."

Related: $5 million cop out

Mr Costigan said the answer was as clear as mud.

"Why not just be upfront, just say, we don't have the money or, we think it's the Commonwealth's responsibility.

"It's on the public record that it would be a joint effort between Canberra and the state government, so for the Flinders shire and Cr Bill Bode, who raised this with me, he's bullsh*tted them and countless landholders who wanted to fix their problem."

Some $2.7m of state money has been channeled through the Queensland Feral Pest Initiative and delivered by Desert Channels Queensland and Southern Gulf NRM since 2015, and another $533,000 has since been allocated to the Southern Gulf NRM's Flinders River catchment eradication program.

Rounding out $5m in existing and ongoing efforts is a $1.7 million research project being undertaken by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to identify, import and test potential biological control agents for prickly acacia.

"How many more insults are left in the Palaszczuk government," Mr Costigan asked "No great votes are delivered for the government in this space but they had a moral responsibility."

Opposition agriculture spokesman Tony Perrett has weighed in with his own criticisms after a question on notice from Southern Downs MP James Lister revealed what money was set aside for weed control this financial year.

The 2019-20 budget has allocated $311,000 for prickly acacia management.

There's zero dollars for lantana, $393,000 for giant rat's tail, $15,000 for fireweed, $43,390 for parthenium and $809,000 on other weeds of significance.

In addition, a report into invasive weeds that Mr Perrett said would require the government to act properly to fund a response, has still not been released.

Read more: Weed work gathering dust

"Clearly the Palaszczuk government is trying to bury its record on weed management by burying the report," he said.

"Everyone knows pest and weed management in Queensland is underfunded and it is about time the government stopped the games and put up the money they promised.

"We cannot allow this culture of secrecy and arrogance to continue."

Mr Furner confirmed that federal Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie had withdrawn the joint agreement on August 22, and that the federal government would administer its $5m directly

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