Interview with Marcus Paul, 2SM

3 June 2021

MARCUS PAUL: We know that in some regional communities, in particular in New South Wales, we've all seen the footage, you know, just mice everywhere, everywhere, getting into silos, getting into feeds, get into people's homes, getting into grocery stores. It's been very difficult. So I thought I'd catch up this morning with David Littleproud, the Federal Agriculture Minister. Good morning to you, David.

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Good morning, thanks for having me.

MARCUS PAUL: No, my pleasure, mate, thank you for coming on. Is it time, perhaps, for a federal response to this as well, along with the state's?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, there already has. The Federal Government has already through the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority approved Five emergency approvals for the use of chemicals in New South Wales alone. We're currently assessing a further one that has had to require further information from New South Wales, which was only provided to the APVMA yesterday. So that assessment's being made. And that's the role that the Federal Government plays in these types of plagues. We give the approvals, the emergency approvals for these chemicals, and the states undertake the necessary action in terms of actually making sure that they're used appropriately out in the field.

MARCUS PAUL: I mean, I don't want to politicise it, because I think, you know, we obviously have issues. Is there any scope at all in the foreseeable future? We had the Treasurer talking up how the economy is getting back on track. We've got economic growth; GDP is on the increase. Could we perhaps find a little bit of financial assistance, do you think, David? Or is there already something, perhaps, that those listening in Regional New South Wales could tap into that they're unaware of?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, that's what the New South Wales Government has led with - $50 million. These are sovereign governments with the resources to make sure that in these events, which is what they're responsible for, they have the financial resources to provide that packages to their residents, and that's what we expect. That's the way in which Federation has been created. They have the responsibility of that. And the New South Wales Government is stepping up to that with $50 million. And obviously our role is around the approval of chemicals.

MARCUS PAUL: All right. What- I mean, this thing is growing. They say it's now reaching other areas. We can only hope that it doesn't reach major metropolitan areas of, say, New South Wales and [indistinct] City Sydney. There are some suggestions there are a few of them in the Blue Mountains. Maybe winter will save us, David.

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, that is normally the case. So, in fact, I live in Regional Queensland, and I've experienced it myself. I came home from Canberra to find them in my bed, and have chewed through my jammies so…

MARCUS PAUL: Oh, really? [Laughs]

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: So, I'm not immune to this. But in Queensland, the baiting had been going on for many months previous, we- landholders around me, my property, we'd been baiting for some time, and obviously we'd reduced the impact of it. And now because of the cold weather, they've slow down. And because of some rain as well. Getting into capital cities is unlikely. That food source is out in the regional areas because of our bumper grain harvest. So, they will be a problem until such time as the cold weather cleans some of them up. But I don't think capital cities need to worry about I think the facts that, obviously, we're encouraging the states to work with landholders to make sure that the baiting that's been approved with those chemicals is done as quickly as they can, and should have been started many, many months ago. And in fact, in Queensland that has happened.

MARCUS PAUL: Well, that- yeah.

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: And can I say that it's not in Victoria. The Victorian Agriculture Minister only said yesterday that it was only in very small parts of Victoria as well. So New South Wales is definitely feeling the brunt. And in Queensland, we're just starting to see the tail end of it now.

MARCUS PAUL: All right, so this final approval would be the bromadiolone. That's the really effective- that's real nasty stuff that they're hoping will stop these critters in their tracks within 24, 48 hours. So that's the final one to be approved. I've been told by the government here in New South Wales, at a martial, the Agriculture Minister, as soon as that approval is given, they're ready to roll it out so we should be okay.

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, that's obviously up to the APVMA. They're a statutory authority. Now, this is a chemical that has different compounds to the ones that should be used already. And what the concern the APVMA will have to work through is if there's any residual because obviously, if there are dead mice in paddocks, bird life and anything else - and in fact, I saw only yesterday that fish are now eating mice as well.

MARCUS PAUL: Yes, they're getting fat. The Murray carp.

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Yeah, so, it's important to understand that the APVMA will have to take all that into account. And so I don't- I'm not a scientist, so we expect the APVMA to make that assessment. They're working through that now. And the last piece of information that wasn't provided and was needed to be provided was only given to them, as I understand, yesterday. So they're now working through that. But there's nothing stopping the New South Wales Government and landholders baiting now. There is approved baiting. And that process should be well underway.

MARCUS PAUL: All right, Minister, I appreciate you coming on this morning just to clarify all of that, and we'll talk again soon. Thank you.

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Anytime, mate. Thanks for having me.

MARCUS PAUL: All right, here he is, Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.