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Hudson Pear becomes a prickly issue

Volunteers out fighting the spread off Hudson Pear – Jack Murray, Phil Matthews, James Foster, David Venaglia, Tina Lawrence, Wayne Lawrence and David Sullivan. Photo TWH

Tricia Duffield and Rata Jackson

The scourge of Hudson Pear infestation is shaping up as an unlikely political issue in the coming state election.

Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW, Dugald Saunders, has accused critics of the eradication program of playing politics.

Mr Saunders said there had been a ‘ramping up’ and politicisation of the issues since the Hudson Pear eradication announcement of $2.6 million in December.

According to Minister Saunders the Hudson Pear program had been ‘funded like it has never been funded before’ by the state government.

“Suggestions that nothing is being done are farcical and completely disingenuous,” he said.

“The $2.6 million uplift of Hudson Pear funding is for a coordinator plus an on-the-ground person to help do the all the work we need to do, including mapping where we need to ring-lock Hudson Pear.

“We know the main areas and we need to find out where the boundaries are and then work back in from that, so in the first six months we must hit those areas hard and establish containment lines around it and support landowners.

“Some of the misinformation going around about not enough money and no chemicals and no support is completely disingenuous and is being spread by people who should know better and who are supposed to be part of solution, but instead are playing political games,” Mr Saunders said.

Meanwhile, Member for Barwon, Roy Butler has hit back, saying little has been done by the government to stop what he said could quickly become a national threat.

Mr Butler said people had been trying for years to warn the government about the growing menace of Hudson Pear, but he said little had been done to stop what could pose a national threat to native animals, stock, and land viability.

“The Minister has not offered a comprehensive solution,” Mr Butler said.

“People in the communities affected, who have been tackling the problem whatever way they can, say that only way to get on top of the problem is five years of full-time chemical spraying by ground crews.

“Time is of the essence. This is not politics, it is a representation to the Minister, and to the Shadow Minister.

“The Minister should learn to listen to expertise on the ground and respect the needs of the regional people who are within his portfolio. […]

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