THE ceaseless mouse plague ravishing regional New South Wales has impacted farmers health and their bank accounts, with most landholders buying and laying bait for more than six months now, in an effort to save their seasonal crops.
Chris Kemp, Executive Counsellor at New South Wales Farmers explained the mouse plague has affected farmers’ mental health and asked the Upper Hunter by-election candidates how they would address the “crippling crisis.”
“When you’re catching 20 mice a night in your house and all your land’s been defecated on, it really gets people down. It’s bad enough putting up with it in the paddock but when it gets into your house, it becomes another level,” said Mr Kemp.
“If you were the local member, what would you do to address this crisis crippling regional New South Wales?”
In order of appearance.
David Layzell said he has talked to the Deputy Premier about the mice crisis and issues faced by farmers. “My understanding of it is that we do need to come up with a plan very quickly. It is affecting not only farmers and a huge colossal value of their crops, it’s also affecting retail stores and people in their houses. I do think there’s a place for the government to get involved in baiting to deal with the problem in the short term. We’ve come off a bumper crop and that’s whats caused the problem but there’s a long-term element and I hope the LLS will look at long-term strategies in dealing with these issues,” said Mr Layzell.
Sue Gilroy said the problem has been ignored for far too long and farmers should be subsidised for baiting costs. “I have lived through a mouse plague as a child and I am still emotionally scarred from that. Waking up in your bed, with a mouse trying to nest in your hair, leaves lasting impact. I believe our famers should be subsidised for baiting they have to outlay their money for. I also believe we need to have funding for research into the effective ways to get rid of the mouse plague or at least control it for these farmers,” said Ms Gilroy.
Sue Abbott said she feels defeated by the mouse plague and there needs to be a conversation between farmers, environmental groups and government.”I watched a mouse pop out of my toaster this afternoon after I had got the toast out for my soup. I think we need to have more of a conversation about baiting and I would like to sit down with environmental groups because obviously its a problem for our big birds and other creatures. Mice have been in our hospitals, they’ve been in our nursing homes. The mice are everywhere and it really is defeating and it makes you feel very down, so we need to get the government on board and take this seriously. We need to be approaching this in a way that we can get on top of it. The cold winter will come soon, which will definitely help but in the meantime, we need to be talking to the farmers who are so incredibly affected,” said Ms Abbott.
Tracy Norman agreed with both Sue’s and said more research is needed in finding a biological solution. “We can see what happens with research, with Covid-19 how quickly vaccinations were established. If there’s a will there’s a way. We need to put some serious money into research and definitely need to be helping farmers through this problem but let’s get onto it. There’s got to be some sort of biological control, because it sounds like baiting would just be ongoing and not overly effective plus the problems with other animals. Let’s look at some biological controls, I know people will think about cane toads but there has been some pretty successful biological controls introduced, we got rid of prickly pear with one,” said Ms Norman.
Jeff Drayton said the problem is bigger than the mouse plague, which has shown the government is not listening, with the solution being an agricultural commissioner. “They stopped listening a long time ago. Certainly the Labor party recognised that more recently with an announcement fro an agricultural commissioner. This is exactly the work that an agricultural commissioner would do, it’s a statutory role. Importantly, it sits independently from any government so every four years when we come around for an election, we’re not having a political blue about what farmers should or shouldn’t do or who they should or shouldn’t talk to. The mouse plague should be treated no different to floods and fire that affect farmers,” said Mr Drayton.
Kirsty O’Connell said one of the quickest ways to get action on the mouse plague would be to put an Independent in the Upper Hunter seat. “I think that might get some attention on the issue straight away. I think we need to be giving proper resourcing to the LLS to assist in a baiting program so we can get cracking on that. I also think that public health issues around this have been totally ignored. I know at least one case of Leptospirosis in Scone, I think there needs to be information and resources made available immediately through local community health and medical centres so that people know what kind of hygiene and precautions they should be taking and whether or not leptospirosis vaccinations would be advisable or effective in this case. We have seen from Sydney-based politicians that when it comes to something like Covid-19 they can move but when it comes to a regional community, we’re supposed to suck it up. We need to see them taking us seriously and actually prioritising our health and our livelihoods,” said Ms O’Connell.
Archie Lea said “eradicate them.” He said as a Doctor of theology and science, research is his game. “Rats, mice are causing heaps and they’re not hygienically clean. I was just down having a lemon squash and I saw a mice go across something. I take it aware they aren’t clean and can do every real harm to your children. To me, get rid of them as quick as you can,” said Mr Lea.
Dale McNamara said the government would “really jump” if the problem was in Sydney.”The real facts are that it’s just another arrogance at our Upper Hunter cost. If it was Sydney and there was a mouse plague there, imagine the money that would be chucked at it. There would be trucks, water carts, there would be that much money chucked at Sydney but in the Upper Hunter. I live on a farm in lower Belford and my neighbour who is a horse trainer has had a major problem with mice in the horse feed, so again, I guess if we took a semi-trailer of those mice to Sydney, there would be plenty of money chucked at it. It’s just arrogance from the main parties, vote an independent and get the change,” said Mr McNamara.
Steve Reynolds said more research needs to be done and agreed with Tracy in regards to her vaccination comparison. “We’ve got to look at it with the biosecurity side of it too. Financially, there needs to be compensation for the farmers, I’ve seen the photos come through from my brother out on his Dubbo property, all the mice that are in the are and he is catching night after night. Personally, I don’t have that problem in Muswellbrook but I can relate to where you’re coming from. It’s going to have a chain reaction, with supply and demand, financially and I believe it’s got to be more than just throwing the baits out there. The disease and everything that comes along with it, we really need to do the research. Not enough is being done now, we need to stop being reactive and start being proactive in these situations.
For more information on where candidates stand: Voting 101: Upper Hunter by-election.