Weeds: control

I raise a matter for the Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, and the action I seek is for the minister to support the establishment of a biological control program to combat the weed wandering trad. A number of local groups in my community are engaged on this issue, including the Friends of Sherbrooke Forest, Friends of Ferny Creek, Monbulk Landcare Group, Friends of Monbulk Creek, Friends of Glenfern Valley Bushlands, Friends of Sassafras Creek, Friends of Hazel Valley, Olinda Creek Landcare Group, Hogan Park Committee of Management, Thomsons Road Area Fireguard Community and Landcare Group, and the Patch Landcare Group. Many organisations and people are concerned about wandering trad.

A number of bipartisan groups organised a tour of the Dandenong Ranges.

Along with the member for Gembrook, a member for Eastern Victoria Region in the other place, Edward O’Donohue and federal members of Parliament, I went to have a close look at the weed problem in the hills and also the areas where great work has been done to eradicate weeds.

Wandering trad is a very nasty weed. It is a vigorous evergreen creeper which occurs throughout the Dandenongs and in the foothills on both public and private land. It completely suppresses native ground covers and prevents the regeneration of understorey shrubs. It is a significant threat to the biodiversity of native plants. In terms of treatment, it can be removed manually but is a bugger of a weed, because as soon as you grab a handful of wandering trad — —

An honourable member interjected.

Mr MERLINO— They all are, indeed. As soon as you grab a bunch of wandering trad it breaks away easily. It can be treated and killed using herbicides, but it needs repeated applications, which is not appropriate for local streams. In the environment of the Dandenongs using herbicides is just not appropriate. There is a biological control, and insects have been collected from the home range of the trad in Brazil — —

An honourable member interjected.

Mr MERLINO— No, it is not a cane toad; it is some sort of beetle, which targets the weed species only. It ignores land tenure. It is the tradescantia leaf beetle. A research program in New Zealand has been quite successful.

The Minister for Environment and Climate Change wrote to Edward O’Donohue saying the Department of Sustainability and Environment is very supportive of it but it needs Department of Primary Industries support as well.