I rise to speak on Mr Meddick’s motion in relation to 1080 poison. Like with the motion earlier today brought by Mr Barton in relation to workers in the gig economy, something he is very passionate about, I also commend Mr Meddick for bringing this motion to the house. He is very passionate about these matters. Whether or not people agree with him, I think the one thing you cannot argue with is how strongly Mr Meddick feels about these issues and his continued pursuit of them.
Can I say from the outset that clearly the things that Mr Meddick is asking the government to do are to implement recommendation 7 of the Environment and Planning Committee’s report on the inquiry into ecosystem decline, tabled in December 2021, by introducing a phase-out of the use of 1080 poison to be finalised by December 2023, with Victoria’s national parks beginning in July 2022 and private and agricultural land after 12 months, and to commit to further investment and the introduction of alternatives, including but not limited to immunocontraception, as an urgent priority. I note that the government is yet to respond to that report and those recommendations, and it is appropriate that we see what sort of response is forthcoming from the government to that report rather than dealing with it in a piecemeal fashion.
Mr Meddick has taken us through very graphically the use of 1080, and its use has also been touched on by other speakers. I will say that the use of 1080 is of course very strictly controlled but is considered to be a critical tool for protecting Victoria’s biodiversity and livestock industries from pest animals. We know that it is an active constituent in a number of pest-animal baits and that these products importantly are registered by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, the APVMA, and used in Victoria and other states and territories for the control of things such as foxes, rabbits, wild dogs and feral pigs. These baits are commonly used by public land managers, as we know, such as Parks Victoria, for biodiversity protection and by farmers to reduce damage caused by pest animals and to protect livestock from predators. In terms of its use, baiting is considered to be most effective when it is conducted across the landscape and in combination with other control methodologies.
Important points there that I think as part of this debate we need to be cognisant of are that the use of the products that contain 1080 have to be registered by the relevant authorities—where they are used, why they are used—and importantly they are to be used in proper and appropriate ways. Of course that is also monitored by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions. I think there are something like a dozen or so officers who are charged with the responsibility to follow up reports of misuse and the investigation of that use. I do not want to go into all of the detail, as I said, that Mr Meddick and others have covered off, but I think those are very important points to make.
I would also make the point that it is always difficult when we are talking in this sort of space. It is a very sensitive topic and a very difficult topic, and I completely understand that. I certainly understand Mr Meddick’s passion for this issue and his consistent advocacy in this space.
It is particularly used in the agricultural industry, and of course I am very pleased that the Labor government is backing our agricultural sector with an ambitious vision for its future with our 10-year agricultural strategy. In this year’s budget alone some of the investments that we have made in this very important sector of our economy are $1.8 million for collective biosecurity action, including support for community pest management groups; $12 million for a world-class glasshouse and innovation and incubation hub in Horsham in Mr Meddick’s electorate of Western Victoria to cement Victoria as a leader in alternative proteins, and I know that has been very well received; $2.9 million for Victorian grown to get more Victorian projects on the tables of Victorian homes and businesses and grow exports; $1.4 million to support climate-ready agriculture; and a record $18.6 million for initiatives to support animal care and protection—and I know that Mr Meddick talked about that earlier today as well and is very supportive of some of those measures.
Agriculture is a key component in our economy here in Victoria, and it is responsible for somewhere in the order of 74 800 jobs in agriculture and 21 700 farm businesses. $17.8 billion is the value of our agricultural production here in Victoria. We are the largest ag producer in the country. We produce $14 billion of value in Victorian food and fibre exports, and we are responsible for 27 per cent of the national food and fibre exports from Victoria throughout the world. So it is very important that we find best practice ways to protect that industry, bearing in mind the matters that are being brought forward in this motion today.
As I said at the commencement of my contribution, I am cognisant that the government is yet to formally respond to the report from the Environment and Planning Committee, particularly recommendation 7, which is encapsulated by Mr Meddick’s motion. I think it is important that the government does respond to that report, to that inquiry and to those recommendations, and that will assist the development of the appropriate uses of all of these sorts of materials, techniques and strategies to ensure that ecologically and environmentally we can live harmoniously with our environment as best we possibly can.