Pest Control – FMD Question without notice

Ms BATH (Eastern Victoria) (12:26): My question is to the Minister for Agriculture. A recent population explosion of feral pig numbers in the north-east of the state around Bonang has seen enormous damage to farmers’ pasture and fencing. One particular property owner has caught 56 wild pigs this year alone, but there are many, many more, and there is a lack of government control in place. So I ask: Minister, considering the heightened risk of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) incursion into Victoria, what additional efforts have been put in place to support local farmers in managing the feral pig population explosion?

 

Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education, Minister for Agriculture) (12:27): I thank Ms Bath for this question. It is a very important
question. It is an important question for a whole range of reasons but particularly in terms of biosecurity, which we all know, as a result of foot-and-mouth in Bali in particular being close to our
borders, has a heightened sense and has, as I said, serious currency in the political will of the country at the moment. This issue of not just feral pigs but feral animals generally has certainly captured my attention as it relates to biosecurity in particular but also of course in terms of agriculture. What I have requested, as a result of all the other work that is being done, is a snapshot of what is actually in place at the moment and what the cross-departmental responsibilities are, because the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has carriage of certain things and other departments have carriage of others. I am also seeking more information in respect of the interstateness, because obviously animals do not take too much notice of borders. I have asked for that and some policy advice so we can have more information to provide the task force so that we can have a much more up-to-date and holistic attitude and, I would dare say, the development of plans in a more general way to deal with not only pigs but also feral cats—there are a whole range of issues that we have in this state and in this country—which do carry disease that will potentially have an impact on our agriculture and our environment more generally.

Ms BATH (Eastern Victoria) (12:29): I thank the minister for her response. Speaking about other feral animals, I will go to my supplementary. Indeed I heard an interjection from the former minister about landowners’ responsibilities, and that relates to this question. With increased risks of FMD and the ability of the disease to be carried by feral animals, a number of farmers are wanting to take preventative action by having authority to control wildlife permits approved for species like, but not confined to, hog dear. They are being told by the government that permits will not be preapproved and to wait until FMD arrives on our shores, which will be far too late if permits then need to be approved.  Minister, given the seriousness of this situation and the need for preventative measures, will the government facilitate the preapproval of authority to control wildlife permits so farmers can be best prepared for this situation?

Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education, Minister for Agriculture) (12:30): I thank Ms Bath for her question. I do not have that sort
of level of detail. If you could submit the information that you have in relation to landowners in that particular area to me, that would be very, very helpful. But I will take that on notice if you can also provide me with that information.