17 May 2022
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development.
The PRESIDENT: On the topic of?
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: On the topic of blue gums on Kangaroo Island.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr President. Everybody is interested in KI today. I visited Kangaroo Island last year, and locals told me about the plantations of Tasmanian blue gums that are a result of the forestry industry species that is not endemic to the island. After the fires, mature blue gums released a large volume of seed, which has germinated in areas of remnant vegetation, conservation land and roadside vegetation. What has resulted is a dense infestation of Tasmanian blue gums that are outcompeting native flora and fauna and changing the ecosystems that provide essential habitat for vulnerable species.
Tasmanian blue gums grow at a rapid rate, and it is currently reported that these trees are now standing over two metres tall. A concerted effort by locals volunteering has managed to remove 20 per cent of the saplings, but the time to easily remove them has already passed. A consortium of conservation groups, Trees for Life, the Kangaroo Island Landscape Board, the Kangaroo Island Landowners Association, the nature conservation council of SA and the Kangaroo Island Council have reported that only 900 hectares out of more than 3,500 have been cleared of Tasmanian blue gums, and they have called for additional funds to address this recovery effort.
My questions to the minister therefore are:
- What is the government planning to do to address the invasive Tasmanian blue gums in forestry plantations on Kangaroo Island?
- Will the minister ensure that the timber industry make a contribution?
- Will the government be allocating funds within the coming budget to deal with this serious problem?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I thank the honourable member for his question. It is quite interesting that it is the same day as you are talking about the issue of feral pigs, for example, because the very finely balanced ecosystem of Kangaroo Island, of course, is incredibly important, both for its benefits for tourism, its benefits for ecological purposes, its benefits for our agricultural sector.
I haven't had the particular matter that the honourable member has mentioned brought to my attention. I am certainly happy to investigate further and come back to the council with an answer. I suspect it also very strongly covers and crosses over with the responsibilities of my colleague in the other place the Minister for Environment and Water. So I will certainly look into this matter. I thank the member for bringing it to my attention, and if he would like to provide me any further details other than his outline to the chamber today, I am very happy to receive them.