My adjournment matter tonight is for the Minister for Health, and the action I am seeking from the minister is to facilitate with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) mouse bait mixing to be undertaken in Victoria.
Mice as we know create a hell of a problem for farmers, and with the grain harvest about to be undertaken, the mice plague is continuing to build and continuing to cause problems for grain farmers, particularly up in the north and in the Mallee. One of the farmers called me in just the last couple of days saying that he is about to start baiting for the fifth time, and because of the crops being so advanced he is having to actually get an aeroplane in to drop the poisonous grain onto his crops to try and keep the mouse numbers down. This same farmer was telling me that he has to travel over into New South Wales to actually get the grain that is poisoned with a chemical called zinc phosphide. This is a schedule 7 chemical, so it does require some safety in terms of the way it is handled, but it is handled very well and very efficiently over in New South Wales, so there is no reason that it cannot be used in Victoria. At the moment you cannot actually get zinc phosphide mixed with wheat because of the regulations between the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) and the DHHS.
The action I am seeking is that the minister work with her department to negotiate the enormous amount of bureaucracy required to get to a position where we can have a group or company set up here in Victoria able to mix the chemical with the grain and make it available for farmers so they can protect their crops, which are obviously their lifelines and where they make their money. There was a reasonable grain harvest last year, which has meant there has been a reasonable amount of grain on the ground so mice have bred up. There is going to be a reasonable harvest again this year, so it is a huge asset that is currently out in the paddocks, and if the mice are to explode in numbers, they will eat the stalks of the crop and that drops onto the ground and is unable to be harvested. Then we have got the sowing season coming up early next year, so it is very important that we get on top of the mice so that they do not continue to breed and create a problem for farmers, which would take away the important wealth that they would create not only for themselves but also for this state.
If the minister can work with her department to overcome the bureaucracy to allow for mouse bait mixing to occur in Victoria, that would be much appreciated by all farmers in northern Victoria.