PEST: Fireweed will be under the spotlight at a parliamentary inquiry in Gatton later this month.
PEST: Fireweed will be under the spotlight at a parliamentary inquiry in Gatton later this month. fireweed

Parliamentary weeds inquiry coming to Gatton

A TOXIC weed quietly invading the state's best pasture land will be under the spotlight at a parliamentary inquiry in Gatton.

Chair of the Queensland Parliament's Agriculture and Environment Committee and Member for Greenslopes, Joe Kelly, warns that weeds such as fireweed pose a major threat to the state's agriculture sector, as well as high-value environmental areas.

"Fireweed is one of three agricultural weeds we are looking at as case studies for our inquiry into the impact and control of invasive plants in Queensland,” Mr Kelly said.

"It first came to Australia in 1918. It didn't spread much at first, but it's exploded in the last 30 years. You can find it right along the New South Wales coast, and up into the Lockyer Valley. If we can't control it, it's predicted to spread north as far as Rockhampton.”

"Fireweed contains alkaloids that are quite toxic to cattle. That wouldn't be a problem, but if it's left to spread, fireweed can choke out grasses that cattle need to eat. It also affects sheep and goats, though not quite as badly. But whatever kind of livestock a property carries, a fireweed infestation can drastically reduce its capacity. Fireweed is difficult to spot until it flowers, and by that point it's very difficult to get rid of it.”

At the public hearings the committee will hear about the effectiveness of control programs run by councils, NRM groups and Biosecurity Queensland, the agency charged with managing fireweed and other weeds in Queensland, including the development of bio-controls.

The committee will report its findings to the Queensland Parliament later this year. The committee's roundtable meeting and public hearings will be held on 4 May 2017, from 12:30 pm, at the University of Queensland's Gatton campus.


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