Mr O'SULLIVAN (Northern Victoria) — The matter I wish to raise tonight is for the Minister for Agriculture. The action that I am seeking is for the minister to make available some resources from within her department to allow a smooth transition for the approvals to allow bait-mixing stations to be up and running quickly and available for farmers to deal with the impending mice plague in some parts of northern Victoria. In terms of doing that, the minister's department would have to work closely with the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that these bait-mixing stations can be set up as soon as possible.
With the 2016 grain season having been a very strong season, there is plenty of grain left around on the ground. The warm spring has meant ideal conditions for mice to breed, and they have been very much doing so in South Australia and Victoria. The CSIRO have already said that there are going to be significant mice problems in the Mallee, the Wimmera and South Australia in the coming autumn period.
We are just about to go into the 2017 sowing season. That is when the mice will be a particular problem for farmers, as when farmers sow the grain into the ground to grow, the mice who get very hungry as they get into larger numbers will dig down into the ground and actually eat the seed out of the ground, which will restrict the crop from growing as it should. What is required is a multipronged approach in terms of dealing with this impending problem, and the farmers will certainly take on their own measures to deal with it. They will avoid sowing dry, because that makes it much easier for the mice to dig down and eat the grain, and they will also use an increased seeding rate per hectare to make sure that if some grain is eaten, there will be other grains there that can grow up into their crop.
They will be using poisons such as zinc phosphide. They will mix that into grain through these mobile baiting stations, and then they will be able to spread that out around where the mice are particularly bad, where the holes have formed, and they will be able to hopefully poison those mice so they do not do any damage. The mice do not like the onset of winter, and they will eventually die off when it gets very, very cold, but that autumn intervening period is where the zinc phosphide baiting will need to occur so that the farmers can hopefully have a great season without a mouse plague destroying the crops before they are even out of the ground.