Uproar over rural firies

Paul Schembri.
Paul Schembri.

CANEGROWERS has slammed news that the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) will, in fact, reduce the rate of the herbicide diuron.

Diuron is widely used and an effective weed management tool used responsibly in the Australian sugar industry.

The use of the herbicide was suspended in November, 2011; however a reduced rate of use (1.8kg per ha) was granted for continued use until the APVMA could complete its review.

The news now that a further reduction in rate will be the outcome of that review is extremely disappointing.

The rate recommended (250 grams-450 grams per hectare) will virtually mean that it will become completely ineffectual in weed control. In fact, this decision is almost the same as applying a total ban.

Diuron's greatest attribute is its cost-effectiveness. If cane farmers are prevented from using diuron, it will have a severe impact on growers' input costs. Replacement chemicals are two to three times the cost of diuron.

Canegrowers will have further meetings this week with the APVMA, where we hope to have the decision reviewed.


In other sugar industry news, recent announcements regarding our Rural Fire Brigades have attracted many headlines.

Rural Fire Brigades are an integral part of Queensland's rural landscape.

These brigades are made up of volunteers who are committed to their local communities. Their work is unpaid and they do an outstanding job in protecting property and people from the constant threat of fire.

Many cane farmers up and down the coast of Queensland are members of the Rural Fire Brigades.

Not surprisingly, there has been a strong and adverse reaction to the speculation that some 40 full-time employees who support Rural Fire Brigades may be made redundant.

Very quickly, the State Government has moved to defuse the situation by countering that the proposal released has not yet been sanctioned by the minister and the Queensland Government.

The issue of regional offices and staffing numbers is now to be reviewed.

We are pleased that local Member for Mirani Ted Malone will have substantial input into this review.

Canegrowers is adamant that the Rural Fire Brigades and the Rural Fire Service should continue to be strongly supported by the Queensland Government.

More and more Queenslanders are choosing to live in rural landscapes, hence the increased potential for fires to cause property damage and loss of life.

People who volunteer their time and take the risks for the welfare of others should be strongly supported by government.

Topics:  canegrowers comment diuron paul schembri rural fire service

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