Chapter 8 - The Way Forward
The [invasive species] problem seems immense and there is
certainly no “silver bullet” for all, or perhaps even any, of these pest
species, either animal or plant.
This quote by botanist Mr Ed McAlister who wears, among
his many hats, that of President of the World Association of Zoos and
Aquariums, is significant for putting the invasive species problem into
context. The Committee has learnt in the course of this inquiry that the scale
of the problem is enormous and the challenges daunting. The traditional
response in such situations is to call for larger expenditures, usually by
governments, because it signals the view that more should be done. However, the
Committee has been struck by the fact that much good work is being done in Australia,
not least by governments but also at an individual level - by dedicated
scientists, researchers, and members of the public - who are willingly
committing their energies in trying to confront the pest species challenge.
While greater expenditure is certainly well and truly justified at a
governmental level, what is equally needed is for a national strategic approach
to be developed which will guide and coordinate the efforts of all parties in
seeking to achieve a common goal.
As discussed throughout this report, society pays a
high price for the presence of invasive species - not just in direct costs to
the agriculture sector - but also in such externalities as environmental
degradation and loss of Australia's
unique biodiversity. Assisted by the rapid global expansion of trade and
travel, invasive species and their cost to society are increasing at an
Most non-native species are relatively benign.
Australians are the beneficiaries of cows from Jersey
and roses from England
- to name but two examples. While purists may disagree, Australia
is a more dynamic and attractive country for the successful introduction of
many non-native species. However, Australia
needs to be able to act effectively on two fronts: to find remedial solutions for
the invasive species that have already passed our borders and to recognise and
manage those non-native species that are not already here that have the
potential to threaten our native flora and fauna.
The Committee has set out in this report - and summarises
below - recommendations for action and strategies for the future that will
in its continuing efforts to combat invasive species. The Committee sees three
key dimensions to resolving the invasive species challenge: a national framework,
research and education. It deals with each in turn below.
The way forward is a national co-ordinated and cohesive
approach across all levels of government, industry and the general community.
Present arrangements represent a good starting point - but there is still scope
for considerable improvement.
A national framework
Invasive species do not recognise borders, yet
Australian management plans and the legislative framework that supports them,
are jurisdictionally based. Frustratingly, those controls introduced and
managed by the States and Territories are inconsistent, which further weakens
the national effort. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the
efforts to combat invasive species in some jurisdictions are undermined when
other jurisdictions fail to apply the same standards.
This lack of uniformity between the States and
Territories raises the issue of the extent to which the Commonwealth Government
should act to ensure that invasive species are dealt with in a consistent
manner, as it is the tier of government primarily concerned with the goal of
biodiversity for the benefit of future generations.
All parties to this inquiry have argued that it is the
proper role of the Commonwealth Government to provide national leadership.
Leadership should involve working with the States and Territories to develop an
agreed national framework, which includes common standards and common invasive
species terminology and categorisation, put into effect through national strategies
and/or action plans, and providing appropriate funding. Benefits of
defining the respective roles and
responsibilities of each level of government;
simplification of current administrative
agreeing on objectives and performance measures
on a national basis;
closing loopholes in current legislative
developing a cooperative and cohesive approach
developing a national information base to guide
strategic planning; and
establishing Australia as a leading edge nation
in terms of management of invasive species, especially in the field of
research, with associated benefits in the international arena.
The Committee welcomes the agreement by the NRM
Ministerial Council in April 2004 that:
there remained a need to
develop a robust national framework for a coordinated and strategic approach to
preventing significant new invasive species establishing in Australia, and to reducing the
impacts of major pests and weeds already present.
A joint Commonwealth-State NRM Standing Committee Task
Group has been established to investigate and report on options for a national
framework for preventative action, early detection, awareness and ongoing
The Committee notes that this initiative received
bipartisan support in the lead-up to the recent Federal election and believes
that Australia's strategic planning and management of invasive species would be
assisted by the development of a national blueprint for action, the equivalent
of a national corporate plan, as the visionary basis for a better coordinated
approach to invasive species. The framework should allocate responsibility for
action between the three tiers of government and set a timetable for the
implementation of key steps.
The Committee recommends that the
Commonwealth Government strengthen its leadership role in the national effort
to combat invasive species by developing a robust national framework, in
consultation with State, Territory and local governments, to regulate, control
and manage invasive species.
The key features of a National Framework should
comprehensive scope to cover all taxonomic
national aims, principles, targets and focus;
common terms and categories for invasive species,
particularly in relation to invasive species of national importance;
emphasis on preventative approaches, including
strengthened community and expert early warning surveillance systems;
promulgation of regulations under section 301A
of the EPBC Act to provide the foundation for a national statutory framework;
development of model State legislation to
encourage harmonised state and territory legislation consistent with the
national statutory framework;
agreed Commonwealth-State cost-sharing
arrangements for both eradication and strategic containment of invasive species
of national importance;
national information system to enhance national,
State and regional strategic planning and review, including a national list of
invasive species; and
a regular review mechanism under NRMMC to
measure performance against agreed targets and milestones.
Some of these key features
are discussed below.
Common terms and categories for invasive species
The Committee heard evidence from a range of quarters
that the Weeds of National Significance (WONS) was a good model of how
Commonwealth, States and Territories could work cooperatively to develop an
agreed national weed control list. This inclusive process resulted in the
States and Territories agreeing in 2001 to prohibit their sale. On the other
hand, the national Alert List of Environmental Weeds was highlighted as a poor
model as it was developed by the Commonwealth with limited State consultation
and was not agreed by the States and Territories. In line with the need to strengthen
actions to prevent nationally important invasive species, the Committee
believes that three standard categories for invasive species of national
importance need to be developed and agreed to by the Commonwealth, States and
Territories and included in all national invasive species strategies and/or
action plans, and to cover all taxonomic groups of invasive species. The three
categories are as follows:
National Quarantine List: Comprised of
invasive species of national importance that are a high invasion risk for Australia,
may or may not have already invaded Australia,
and whose early detection will enable cost-effective eradication. A starting
point should be the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy target list and the
Trigger List of Introduced Marine Pest Species.
National Alert List: Comprised of
invasive species of national importance that are naturalised, have a restricted
range, are predicted to have a major impact on the environment or industries,
and whose eradication is feasible and cost-effective. It should also include
introduced invasive plant species of national importance, which are garden
plants that are yet to escape and are subject to national early warning
National Control List: Comprised of
invasive species of national importance that are naturalised and generally
widespread, are having a major impact on the environment or industry, and whose
containment or control will assist protect the values of areas of national
environmental significance. A starting point is the Weeds of National
Significance list, those invasive species that are listed as a Key Threatening
Process under the EPBC Act, and those marine pests that are subject to a
national action plan (ie. Northern Pacific Seastar).
recommends that as part of developing a list of invasive plant species of
national importance, the Commonwealth, States and Territories develop an agreed
national Alert List.
EPBC Act section 301A regulations
The ongoing trade in Australia
of invasive plants is a complex issue that must be resolved if the problem of
invasive plants is to be effectively addressed. Discussion of issues relating
to the trade in invasive plants is provided in Chapter 5.
The problem is primarily that there is a lack of
national consistency in legislation to control the trading and planting of
invasive plants. This is best demonstrated through the failure of all States
and Territories to prohibit trade in the 20 WONS, despite being declared in
1999 and agreement to do so in 2001. Although the EPBC Act could be utilised to
address this issue the Committee heard that the Commonwealth Government is
hesitant to invoke its powers due to funding, monitoring and compliance
There is a Catch 22 situation. The Commonwealth
Government does not currently wish to implement Section 301A of the EPBC Act
because its view is that the States and Territories are primarily responsible
for managing non-native species. But the States and Territories have failed to
act for their own reasons - with the outcome that the sale of WONS continues to
the detriment of the Australian environment. Many Alert List weeds and a NAQS
target weed are also available for sale.
recommends that those States and Territories that have failed to legislate a
prohibition on the sale of WONS within their jurisdictions should act to do so
as a matter of priority.
recommends that the species listed on the WONS list be reviewed and that other
significant threatening species be included as part of a new national control
list of invasive plant species.
recommends that the Commonwealth, States and Territories provide funding to
enable the Australian Weeds Committee to engage the CRC for Australian Weed
Management to produce a scientifically credible and robust national list of
invasive plant species.
recommends that the Commonwealth, in consultation with the States and
Territories, promulgate regulations under section 301A of the EPBC to prohibit
the trade in invasive plant species of national importance, combined with State
and Territory commitment to prohibit these same species under their respective
recommends that the Commonwealth, in consultation with the States and
Territories, produce a list in legislation of taxa that prevents their sale and
spread for each state or region. Nominations for each taxon on a state or
regional basis can be developed in consultation with natural resource
management agencies, state herbaria and members of the general public.
The Committee believes that the financial burden of
managing invasive weeds should be borne by those who are responsible for the
importation and sale of plants known to be weedy.
recommends that the Commonwealth Government investigate the imposition of a
'polluter pays' principle where importers pay for the cost of control and
repair should a plant become a weed.
The Committee suggests that the national plan, which
will recognise regional differences, should act as the basis for the continuing
self-regulation of the nursery and garden industry. Should experience suggest
that voluntary observance is inadequate once clear lists of invasive weeds are
produced, governments may have to give consideration to a more regulatory
The Committee heard that sleeper weeds - weed species
that are already in Australia
but have not yet become widely established - pose a significant potential
threat. In Chapter 5 it is noted that resources are allocated to manage widely
established weeds rather than directed at eradicating small outbreaks of
sleeper weeds before they become a major problem, despite the evidence that the
earlier the response, the more cost effective.
Management of weed species is also adversely affected
by the emphasis on weeds with agricultural impacts ahead of those with
primarily environmental or social impacts. While this is understandable in pure
economic benefit-cost terms, the Committee believes that a more strategic
approach would focus on prioritising species and habitats according to the
potential for damage to indigenous biodiversity and the likely effectiveness of
recommends that the National Weeds Strategy better clarify responsibility for
funding eradication of ‘sleeper weeds’ with purely an environmental or social
recommends that investment in early warning systems be increased for the
detection and eradication of sleeper weeds.
The need for a national blueprint for invasive species
abatement is addressed above. But the absence of a national strategy
specifically for vertebrate pests - comparable in concept to the National Weeds
Strategy - means that vertebrate pest issues are not being strategically
addressed. Consequently there are greater inconsistencies across jurisdictions
due to the absence of an appropriate forum at which national strategies and
consistent approaches can be agreed and progressed. The establishment of a
national strategy will assist in the development and implementation of a
coordinated national approach to reduce the damage to the natural environment
and primary production that is caused by vertebrate pests. A national strategy
will also enable funds to be applied more strategically so that improved long
term results can be achieved.
recommends that the Commonwealth Government place on the agenda of the Natural
Resource Management Ministerial Council, as a matter of urgency, the issue of
progressing development of a National Strategy for Vertebrate Pests.
As discussed in Chapter 6, Australia
has taken a leading role in developing responses to marine invasive species.
This is highlighted by the prominent role that it took to coordinate
international action in relation to ballast water with the International
Maritime Organisation. Australia's
action has resulted in significantly reducing the threat posed from
translocation of species in ballast water.
Submitters argued that Australia
should take a proactive approach to invasive species that includes looking
overseas and learning about species that have already become invasive
elsewhere. This is exemplified by Australia's
response to the Black-striped mussel outbreak in Darwin
in 1999, a case study of which is provided in Chapter 4. Such action would
preparedness to manage new incursions and are more likely to be successful as
prevention and early control are the cheapest and most effective approaches to
managing invasive species.
It was also submitted that improving our trading
partners' capacity to respond to invasive species and reducing the risk of
species reaching trading partners' ports has a flow-on effect for Australia as
it reduces the chances of invasive species being picked up in ballast water or
through bio-fouling and translocation to Australian waters.
The management of invasive marine species within Australia's
waters is also compounded by the lack of a national strategy to address these
issues. As discussed in Chapter 6, some progress has been made towards the
development of a national strategy. However, progress has been slow and delays
increase the likelihood of new incursions. Two areas which pose a significant
risk to Australia
are bio-fouling and mariculture. Yet, to date, they have not received the level
of attention warranted by the level of risk they present.
recommends that the Commonwealth Government take a lead role in Ministerial
Councils and other appropriate forums to accelerate progress on the
development, implementation and funding of a national system to deal with
marine invasive species.
recommends that, as a matter of urgency, the Commonwealth Government should
develop programs to minimise the threat of invasive marine species entering Australia's waters via hull fouling or as a result
of the mariculture industries.
recommends that the Commonwealth Government should provide long-term funding
for research aimed at identifying and combating marine invasive species,
particularly those which may threaten marine parks such as the Great Barrier
Reef Marine Park, and those that are in the ports of Australia's trading
partners and could be translocated to Australia.
Key threatening processes
As discussed in Chapter 5, currently key threatening
processes are only listed under section 183 of the EPBC Act when the process
threatens, or may threaten, the survival, abundance or evolutionary development
of a native species or ecological community. Listing is done at a late stage of
the species survival even though it is recognised that to save the species at
that point would be costly or ineffective. Evidence argues for the need for
early intervention in addressing invasive species and threatening processes.
recommends that the Threat Abatement Process (TAP) be reviewed to enable
threatening processes to be listed prior to threatened species reaching a
Review of the Quarantine Proclamation 1998
The Committee acknowledges the work undertaken by AQIS
and Biosecurity Australia
since 1997 to review the listing of the more than 2,000 genera in Schedule 5 of
the Quarantine Proclamation 1998. It commends the fact that the review, once
completed, will list plants at species level, not genus and will lead to the
removal of species not present in Australia
from the list, pending WRA. The
Committee heard that:
Looking forward, we believe that in 12 to 14 months time we
will be able to have a honed permitted list and nothing could then join that
list until such time as it had gone through a comprehensive risk assessment.
While commending the work that has been undertaken, the
Committee expresses its concern over the time being taken to finalise the
review. Every live plant that inadvertently enters Australia
in the interim may end up costing the country dearly in the long-term. Speed is
of the essence.
recommends that the Commonwealth Government act urgently to ensure that:
all listings on Schedule 5 of the Quarantine Proclamation 1998 are made by
species, not genera;
a mechanism be developed to ensure that species
identified as weeds of national significance are automatically removed from
Schedule 5; and
all listings and applications for the import of
plants and seeds be standardised using the scientific names of species.
Import risk analysis
Discussion in Chapter 6 highlighted some deficiencies
in the import risk analysis (IRA) process, the greatest of which was the lack
of independence in the conduct of the IRA process. The current system allows
the proponent to directly select and fund the analyst, leading to suggestions
of a conflict of interest. This lack of independence brings the integrity of Australia's
quarantine system into question. This is a key issue. One wrong import risk assessment
could have significant consequences. In the Committee's opinion a better system
would see a closer involvement of Biosecurity Australia in the process of
conducting import risk analyses, either by conducting them itself on a cost
recovery basis, or by co-ordinating their production by a panel of approved
providers, again with the cost of the assessment being borne by the proponent.
recommends that the import risk analysis process be modified to guarantee
greater independence in their preparation.
Emergency response plans
The Committee is reassured at the adequacy of the
emergency arrangements for dealing with incursions that might adversely affect
primary industries. It notes, however, that incursions which have an
environmental impact seem to have no equivalent mechanisms. Timely action
against environmental pest incursions is equally important.
recommends that the Commonwealth place on the agenda of the Natural Resource
Management Ministerial Council the need for arrangements to be implemented for
environmental pest incursions in parallel with those currently in place for
threats to primary industries.
ability to prevent invasive species from entering its territorial waters and
terrestrial land has a regional and international dimension. As discussed in
Chapter 6, it is unacceptable that international trade rules overrule
environmental considerations. No country, Australia
included, can expect to succeed in addressing its invasive species problems
until it has the capacity to protect its borders from further unwelcome
can take a leadership role in:
identifying the limitations and strengths of
existing international agreements and develop a program of work to further
sponsoring technical assistance workshops in
establishing an ongoing process to consider the
risks of invasive species during the development of trade agreements;
developing strategies and support materials to
encourage and assist other countries with development of coordinated policies
and programs on invasive species; and
fostering and formalising international
cooperation aimed at kerbing the sale of invasive species via the Internet.
recommends that the Commonwealth Government take a leading role in relevant
international forums to seek better recognition of the environmental consequences
of invasive species, particularly in relation to current trade rules.
A comprehensive research program should underpin all
aspects of the fight against invasive species. Complementary research projects,
ranging from basic investigations with broad application to highly targeted
applied efforts are required. Research outcomes should be transferred to
Commonwealth, State, Territory, local government and private stakeholders for
application. To assist in achieving this:
research programs should be adequately funded
greater support should be provided for research
into pests that have not yet become established; and
Australia should establish and coordinate a
long- and short-term research capacity that encompasses the range from basic to
applied research for invasive species and should build on existing efforts that
reflect a range of perspectives and program approaches.
Research should not be motivated by economic
rationalist considerations alone. As discussed in Chapter 4 some invasive
species have a negligible economic cost but a significant environmental cost.
The Committee supports research that will reduce the economic impact of
invasive species but it also considers that there is a need for
non-economically motivated research; research that will assist in preserving Australia's
cultural and environmental heritage. This need was encapsulated by Mr
McAlister when he told the Committee that:
Having post-graduate students and post-doctoral fellows employed
by the appropriate C.R.C.’s to undertake both applied and, what is
euphemistically called, “blue-sky” research is of paramount importance.
'Blue-sky' research has been defined as research that
is not directed towards any immediate or definite commercial goal. Research being conducted by CSIRO
into cane toads is a prime example of blue sky research - after 70 years of
presence in Australia
they are generally regarded as localised, but their eradication is still seen
as a postive for the country's biodiversity.
To ensure that research delivers the highest return on
investment there is a need for improved coordination of R&D units and
improved planning and coordination across agencies involved in delivering
The lines of communication between difference research
organisations are not clear. There is no national invasive species research
body, instead it is distributed across a number of CRC and CSIRO sites.
Research bodies could benefit from greater cross-fertilisation of ideas.
To ensure that invasive species can be successfully
addressed the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments need to commit to
adequate funding of research activities. The Committee heard that it can take
more than 10 years for a biological control method to be developed from inception
to implementation. Long-term commitment to funding is essential especially for
programs that are seeking to develop biological control responses to invasive
species. Central to being able to plan and implement such a research activity
is the need for a guaranteed commitment to funding.
recommends that the Commonwealth Government provide certainty of funding to
research institutions, such as CSIRO and CRCs, to enable them to undertake
long-term research projects.
There was a persuasive weight of evidence that there is
a general lack of awareness in most sectors of the community of the impacts of
invasive species. As was discussed in Chapter 5, invasive species are
recognised as an issue by farmers, but do not have a high profile within the
political arena or wider community. The Committee members themselves - all
urban dwellers - have gone through their own Epiphany, having initially been
largely unaware of the scale of the invasive species problem and now fully
seized with the notion that it is a matter of some considerable priority.
This lack of awareness often simply arises from the
lack of priority given to the issues. One only needs to review the experiences
in Brisbane in relation to the fire ants incursion - the subject of a case
study in Chapter 5 - to see what can be achieved once the public is alerted to
the adverse economic, environmental and social impacts of the threat within
their midst. They can be mobilised and committed. The challenge is to achieve a
recognition that, while the likes of mice and locust plagues energise the
public consciousness from time-to-time, the invasive species threat is
substantial and ever-present.
This general lack of awareness amongst the community of
the invasive species threat can be likened to the salinity or land clearing
issues which in recent years have been the subject of significant media
attention and, where appropriate, substantial funding. It has been acknowledged
that the seriousness of both issues were appreciated by scientists for many
years before general public awareness and concern emerged. Only then did a
political consensus develop to devote substantial resources to tackle the
Invasive species cannot be successfully combated by
researchers and scientists without general community support. Support from the
public is essential, especially where it relates to methods of eradication such
as biological control, gene technology or culling, that may otherwise be
negatively perceived. Awareness campaigns are an absolute necessity to gain
support and acceptance of such actions. The Committee heard argument that
increased awareness and recognition of the impact of invasive species can
result in taxpayers being more willing to spend money and politicians being
more willing to allocate money to the issue.
Public education programs are the key to addressing the
imbalance between the public's perception of the seriousness of the issue of
invasive species and the actual level of threat. Education programs should be
targeted on a number of levels: formal, community and industry.
Education programs directed at school-aged children are
a proven way of raising environmental and scientific awareness across the
community. Just ask any parent who brushes their teeth with the taps running,
or who tries to throw a soft drink can in the general garbage. Information
should be presented not simply as science, but in a social, economic and
political context. This enables students to better understand the complex
circumstances within which decisions about invasive species management are
Investment in education campaigns provide very high
cost-benefit-ratios. As discussed in Chapter 4, a 2003 review of the national
awareness and education campaign, Weed Buster Weed, which started in Queensland
indicated that it had a cost-benefit ratio of 43 to 1.
As awareness of invasive species has grown, the field
of teaching on invasive species has also expanded, especially in the tertiary
arena. Evidence indicated that there was a need for education programs on
invasive species to be holistic and not to solely focus on pest species that
primarily have significant economic impact. As demonstrated in the case study
on Project Eden that is provided in Chapter 5, invasive species cannot be
managed in isolation of the wider environment and their study should be
understood within the framework of the broader environmental perspective.
How invasive species are viewed is influenced by wider
societal values and improved prevention and control of invasive species will
require a change in how the issue is perceived by the wider community. A wide
variety of education, outreach, and training programs are needed. Programs
identifying and evaluating existing public surveys
of attitudes on invasive species issues;
compiling a comprehensive assessment of current
invasive species communications, education and outreach programs;
coordinating development and implementation of a
national public awareness campaign, emphasising public and private
developing a model public awareness program that
incorporates national, state/territory and local level invasive species public
developing and co-hosting a series of
international workshops on invasive species in different regions for policy
educating landowners on weed and pest animal
Commitment to raising community awareness is
demonstrated through the grant to the CRC for Australian Weed Management under
NHT 2 for three-year funding to create an easy-to-use web-based system to
deliver weed information to schools and communities. This project will assist
in disseminating standard information to people at the grassroots level to
assist them in weed identification and weed management. The Committee commends
Volunteers and environment groups can also make vital
contributions by playing a word-of-mouth role in educating their immediate
communities. However, the better the educative instruments at their disposal, the
more effectively they can carry the invasive species message.
The Commonwealth has the capacity to provide a national
framework for the delivery of an education campaign on invasive species,
similar to that which has been developed for the highly successful Quarantine Matters campaign for the
Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.
recommends that, under the National Heritage Trust, the Commonwealth Government
initiate, develop and deliver national community education campaigns on
recommends that the Commonwealth Government provide the relevant curriculum
materials to enable invasive species to be included in relevant schools program
recommends that the Commonwealth Government continue to provide support through
the NHT and Envirofund to community groups that deliver education and awareness
Governments demonstrating leadership
Governments have been as guilty in the past as private
citizens of planting invasive plants in formal displays or as screening, simply
because they were attractive or cheap. It is an important part of the educative
process for governments to demonstrate that they are prepared to show
leadership by their actions, not just rhetoric.
recommends that all tiers of government immediately commit to an eradication
program for all WONS and all locally significant invasive species within their
Labelling on plants
Mandatory labelling of plants to warn and educate
consumers about their invasive qualities, similar to warning advices on water
usage levels for washing machines, has been suggested. Such a system would
raise awareness of the characteristics of the species and assist the public in
making informed decisions. The Committee commends the matter to the industry -
it would also be a relatively cheaper option for the nursery and gardening
industry than mandatory regulation, which the Committee is resisting at this
stage simply because of the relatively small size of many of its players.
recommends that the Commonwealth, States and Territories, the Nursery and
Garden Industry Association and other stakeholders, including conservation
NGOs, establish a process under the proposed National Weeds Action Plan to
examine the merits of a mandatory labelling scheme on invasive garden plants.
recommends that the nursery and gardening industry give consideration to
labelling of all invasive plants which, while able to be sold legally, may have
invasive characteristics and should be managed responsibly.
The Committee received evidence of gardening and
lifestyle programs and magazines that have encouraged the use of invasive
plants. It should not be necessary for the Committee to condemn such irresponsible
behaviour. The Committee takes this opportunity to commend the recent edition
of the Gardening Show on ABC
Television which dedicated an entire program to the issue of invasive weeds.
recommends that gardening and lifestyle programs should be encouraged to
include warnings about the appropriateness of the plants suggested on their
shows. Such warnings could require an indication of the country of origin of
the plant, the areas it is indigenous to, and whether it has proven invasive
Public money should be focused on protecting those
non-commercial species because they have no industries to protect them.
One of the key aims of managing invasive species is to
minimise their adverse economic, environmental and social impacts and to
unique biodiversity. Invasive species not only pose a significant threat to Australia's
agricultural sector but also to native plants and animals. The Committee has
found considerable governmental effort directed at the former and very little
by comparison at the latter.
The Committee expresses its hope that this report will
assist in raising public awareness of the impact of invasive species and
influence the taking of the necessary political decisions, across all tiers of
government, to effectively address the issue. The Committee believes that the
evidence provided in this report will assist in changing Australia's
response to invasive species from a narrow, reactive approach based primarily
on economic considerations to a broadly based one directed at remediation and
protection of Australia's
Some environmental issues turn on competing
interpretations of scientific data - often with more heat than light in the debates.
But the case for taking remedial action against invasive species is real and
provable - we all bear witness to their impact in our daily lives. Action must
be taken for the benefit of future generations. It may take decades, even
centuries, to turn back the tide of environmental degradation of the past 200
years - but now is a good time to make a determined start.