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Joint Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon. Dr David Kemp
Federal Minister for Fisheries,Forestry and Conservation
Senator Ian Macdonald

19 June 2003

National Weeds Facilitator Appointed to Continue War on Weeds

A high profile weeds expert from Tasmania - Mr John Thorp - has been appointed the National Weeds Management Facilitator by the Federal Government who will coordinate a national campaign to control and eradicate Australia's most noxious weeds.

Announced today by Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation, Senator Ian Macdonald, Mr Thorp has already started the job, which is funded under the Howard Government's $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust.

"Mr Thorp, as the national weeds management facilitator, will play a key role in promoting and implementing the objectives of the National Weeds Strategy," Senator Macdonald said.

"This involves developing effective, integrated weed management strategies at local, regional, state and national levels. Other key responsibilities will be closely liaising with all levels of government, industry and stakeholders on weed control, providing advice on policy, carry out an analysis of existing national weed control efforts in place, report regularly to the Federal Government's Australian Weeds Committee on weed issues and developments, and coordinate national public weeds awareness campaigns."

Senator Macdonald said the position is funded under a $1.5 million package specifically targeting noxious weeds as part of the Howard Government's Natural Heritage Trust.

"This $1.5 million weeds component of the Trust has already helped fund national control strategies for 20 individual Weeds of Significance which have so far been very successful. For example, there has been considerable progress in controlling prickly acacia in northern Australia, particularly in the Northern Territory and around the Thomson River in central Queensland."

This funding is in addition to $12.2 million approved through the Trust over two years for 82 projects to control agricultural weeds of national significance including blackberry, Chilean needle grass, gorse, lantana, mesquite, parkinsonia, parthenium, prickly acacia, rubber vine and serrated tussock. This includes $3.6 million for new projects this year.

"While there is extensive and excellent on-ground work already underway, there is a need for a more strategic and streamlined effort at a national, regional and local level and Mr Thorp brings with him the expertise to do this," Senator Macdonald said.

"Mr Thorp is also recognised for his success in boosting stakeholder awareness and involvement in weed management across the country. This is critical to running a highly effective weeds campaign which is exactly what we are aspiring for." (see career summary)

Dr Kemp said invasive weeds are one of the most serious threats to Australia's native ecosystems and agriculture production.

"The cost of weeds to productive agriculture is estimated at a conservative $3.3 billion per annum. This takes into account direct costs of controlling agricultural weeds, yield losses in crops, and contamination and downgrading of grains, fodder and other animal products," Dr Kemp said.

"But it does not include the costs of weeds to other industries nor the impacts on our natural resources and biodiversity which can be devastating.

"Many weeds pose a serious threat to the status of threatened species. For example, the Bridal Creeper threatens the endangered Pterostylis arenicola (or Sandhill Greenwood) orchid in South Australia and the endangered Pimelea spicata shrub once widespread in south-eastern NSW and now confined to small areas of the Cumberland Plain woodlands south-west of Sydney."

Dr Kemp said there are in excess of 3000 non-native naturalised plants recorded in Australia. Weeds of National Significance (WONS) were prioritised based on information from reputable sources, covering both agricultural and environmental weeds.

Other weeds of significant environmental concern include the:

"Weeds also have a range of social impacts causing human health problems via toxins and pollen, they create fire risks through additional fuel loading in forests, they pollute waterways affecting marine life while making swimming unsafe and affecting recreation activities, and they invade, compete with and dominate native species in our national parks," Dr Kemp said.

"By tackling Australia's problem weeds, we are protecting our precious natural resources, valuable agricultural industries and the rural and regional communities that depend on them.

"And it will be the role of the national weeds facilitator - in partnership with governments, industry and communities - to ensure we achieve this."

Career Summary - John Thorp

As Project Director of John Thorp Australia for the past six years, he has undertaken natural resource management and agricultural projects for government and private enterprise.

Projects include:

Prior to operating his own business, John was:

He has chaired and participated in a number of national committees:

Recent achievements

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