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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
and
Senator Ian Macdonald
Australian Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation

7 September 2005

Extra $1 million for 11 projects to Defeat the Weed Menace


The Australian Government is continuing to target weeds across Australia with the announcement today of nearly a million dollars in funding for 11 projects under its new Defeating the Weed Menace Program.

The projects are in addition to 25, worth $1.8 million, already announced.

Australian Environment Minister, Senator Ian Campbell, and Conservation Minister, Senator Ian Macdonald, said the list of projects was the second under the Government's $40 million election commitment to tackle weeds.

Senator Macdonald said the extra eight, on-ground projects, and three national research projects, would receive $1 million.

"Defeating the Weed Menace is targeting Australia's most significant weeds in the field and, at the same time, supporting significant Research & Development into the weeds problem," Senator Macdonald said.

"Weeds are a significant cost to the economy, something like $4 billion a year, and pose one of the greatest threats to Australia's unique plants and animals."

Senator Campbell said the new projects would help manage and control a number of Australia's most significant weeds, including lantana, rubber vine, serrated tussock, Mimosa pigra, parthenium weed, blackberry and bridal creeper.

"Although land management, including weeds, is the responsibility of the States and Territories, the Australian Government is providing national leadership in this important area," Senator Campbell said.

"This is too big a problem for governments to leave to chance."

Arrangements for the 2005-06 funding round will be announced shortly, reflecting the priorities and investment criteria identified by the National Weeds Advisory Group. Details of the 11 projects receiving funding are attached.

Media inquiries:
Senator Macdonald David Crisafulli 0400 144 483
Senator Campbell Renae Stoikos 0418 568 434


Defeating the Weed Menace Program

Multi-regional projects (please note, all figures are pre-GST)

Biological control of Mimosa pigra - insect release and evaluation ($148 500)
This project involves rearing two new biocontrol agents in the war on Mimosa - a leaf-feeding moth and a root-feeding beetle. They will be released at sites across the Northern Territory. They will also be released at Peter Faust Dam in Queensland to boost eradication efforts there. The project will also monitor existing biocontrol agents, and build on our understanding of their effectiveness.

Maintain the National Parthenium Weed Management Group ($11,091)
Continue support for the National Parthenium Weed Management Group to oversee and ensure implementation of a national, strategic plan.

Supporting natural resource management regions to maintain the integrity of the Rubber Vine Containment Line ($100,000) This project will help Queensland natural resource management groups maintain the rubber vine containment line in a number of areas, including the Southern Gulf Catchment, Desert Channels, Mary Burnett and South East Queensland Western Catchment.

Integrated weed management of blackberry in Western Australia ($119,639)
This project will act as the foundation for the integrated management of blackberry in Western Australia. Experiments will be set up by two regional NRM groups in three different forest ecosystems to compare the effectiveness of herbicides against eight new blackberry rust strains on Rubus anglocandicans. The experiments will assess blackberry's impact on the ecosystems and determine whether the proposed integrated approach delivers improvements.

Community biocontrol - lantana ($11,000)
This project involves distributing rust (Prospodium tuberculatum) throughout Australia to boost the war on this troublesome weed.

Maintain a rapid response capability to ensure parthenium infestations are eradicated outside core infestation areas ($60,000) This project will help several catchment management authorities in Queensland and NSW target areas outside the known core infestation zones, building a rapid response capability to try to ensure new and existing parthenium infestations are eradicated.

Emergency response to the Western Cape form of bridal creeper ($40 950)
This project will establish the extent of a recently discovered variation of Asparagus asparagoides, which, to date, has been mistaken for the common form of bridal creeper. The new variety is resistant to the rust biological control agent used on the common bridal creeper.

Integrated management of priority weeds in the Warren Region - southwest and south coast of WA ($40 300) This project involves putting in place an integrated weed control program in the Warren region of WA that will focus on two of the Weeds of National Significance - blackberry and bridal creeper - as well as other serious environmental weeds in southwest and south coast areas of WA.

National research projects (please note, all figures are pre-GST)

Biological control of Mimosa pigra ($206,183)
This project will continue the assessment of two potential biological control agents to target mimosa - the root-breeding leaf beetle Syphrea bibiana, and the tip weevil Temnocerus (=Pselaphorhynchites) debilis. Syphrea bibiana numbers will be boosted and then made available for mass rearing once the release permit is obtained.

The host specificity of Temnocerus (=Pselaphorhynchites) debilis will be tested. In addition, further imports of the recently released agent Leuciris fimbriaria will be processed through quarantine and sent to the Northern Territory Department of Infrastructure Planning and Environment to maintain a broad gene pool for its rearing and release program.

A review of the seeds and plants able to be imported into Australia that have the potential to become weeds ($161,000)
This project involves accelerating a review by Biosecurity Australia of the genus-level listings of permitted plant seeds under the Quarantine Proclamation 1998. The idea is to ensure species not already present in Australia, and which have become weeds in other countries, are not allowed into the country. The aim is to protect Australia's relative pest and disease-free status.

Development of a research and extension strategy to identify priority weed control activities, including biocontrols. ($100,000)
The strategy will identify priority areas for attention under the Defeating the Weed Menace Program investment over the next five years, and appropriate systems for the program's implementation and administration.

Commonwealth of Australia