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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
25 August 1999
Federal Environment and Heritage Minister Robert Hill has announced $150 000 in funding from the Natural Heritage Trust to research a mysterious condition killing native vegetation around Australia.
The condition was first identified 20 years ago by apiarist Geoff Cotton in Mundulla, South Australia. "Mundulla Yellows" has since been found across Tasmania, Western Australia and New South Wales.
As the name suggests, a yellowing of the foliage indicates the presence of the condition and Senator Hill has expressed concern about the effects on native remnant vegetation.
"Current knowledge suggests "Mundulla Yellows" is mainly affecting banksia, eucalypt and tea tree species, but could spread to further species," Senator Hill said.
"The cause of the condition is unknown and currently there is no known cure. At this stage we are unsure whether to even refer to it as a disease, a pathogen or a fungus.
"Early symptoms are a yellowing of the leaves on several branches of the affected tree, gradually spreading into the crown.
"When this occurs the tree often starts producing additional shoots in an attempt to combat the disease, but eventually succumbs to dieback symptoms and dies.
"The Federal Government is allocating the $150 000 from the Bushcare program to fund national research into this devastating disease. Bushcare is the largest new program under the Federal Government's $1.25 billion Natural Heritage Trust.
"Now that the effects of this mysterious condition are becoming alarmingly apparent, it is important to act now to prevent further spreading across the country," Senator Hill said.
Rod Bruem (Senator Hill) (02) 6277 7640 or 0411 128 582
Simon Smalley (Environment Australia) (02) 6274 2501