Calls for more action as grasshoppers ravage Central West
The Agriculture Department is encouraging Central West landholders affected by grasshoppers to take part in a two-month survey to help accurately determine the scale of the problem, but Gregory MP Lachlan Millar says it is too little, too late.
The State Government formed a Grasshopper Working Group in response to high grasshopper populations across the central and north west of the state Queensland.
The DAF said the group, including workers from the Australian Plague Locust Commission and National Drought and Flood Agency, would work to identify the best way forward.
It said the influx of grasshoppers occurred in parallel with increased numbers of locusts in the same areas, and while it had “solid knowledge” about locusts, there was still “much to be learnt about grasshoppers”.
Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar said he did not buy that as an excuse.
“We knew this happened last year,” he said.
“We should have been working on these surveys and working groups last year to have something ready to go this year.
“To say you don’t know anything about grasshoppers [and] only know about locusts I think is a bit of a cop-out for people here and graziers in western Queensland who have seen their livelihoods stripped away.”
He said rain about a month ago improved residents’ hopes of a wet season and a break from drought, but then the grasshoppers came through.
“It’s absolutely been devastating to see what could have been green Mitchell grass and green buffel grass ready to be eaten by cattle and sheep taken away by these grasshoppers,” Mr Millar said.
“It’s even more heartbreaking than seeing the drought.
“It’s left people with very little option but to either destock or start looking at trying to get some fodder in.”
He said graziers needed immediate relief, and certain chemicals should be authorised for spraying hotspots.
“If we get in early, we won’t have to spray as much,” Mr Millar said.
“We knew this was going to happen because it happened last year, and it’s likely to happen again in October this year if we get early rain.”
LNP leader David Crisafulli said “let’s get on with the job now”.
“When a bushfire or a drought hits, it’s up to government to step up, and in many ways, I see this as a very similar situation,” he said.
Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said the State Government had “moved quickly to support producers and local governments who are dealing with this issue”.
“The LNP’s cheap shots and ill-informed claims do nothing to help producers deal with this emerging issue,” he said.
“There are no chemical solutions currently on the market to deal with grasshoppers, but we are working closely with producers and local councils to identify management options.”
Producers can complete the DAF survey or collect photos of grasshoppers on their property and report sightings to at 13 25 23.