2015-12-02 Herbicides + Pesticides

1451. Hon LYNN MacLAREN to the parliamentary secretary representing the Minister for Health:

I refer to the recent classification of glyphosate as a class 2A probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

(1) Can the minister advise whether the regulation and oversight of the application and use of herbicides and pesticides on public and private land is appropriate and offers sufficient safeguards and protections for the community?

(2) Can the minister advise what actions he will take in response to community concerns about the lack of sufficient notification of the spraying of herbicides and pesticides on public lands, especially around areas where young children may come into direct contact with sprayed vegetation?

(3) Can the minister provide details of what monitoring is being done and what studies have been conducted in Western Australia to ascertain whether any parks, roadside verges, school ovals and gardens and other public lands have been contaminated with chemicals such as glyphosate or benzene from weed spraying or any other causes?

(4) Is the minister confident that all WA local governments are effectively overseeing and ensuring compliance with relevant legislation and standards by operators applying pesticides and herbicides in their local area?

Hon ALYSSA HAYDEN replied:

I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question.

(1) Yes; it is safe when the product is used according to label directions. Use in accordance with the label directions has been confirmed as safe by the national regulator—the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority—and European regulators.

(2) The Health (Pesticides) Regulations 2011 require signage to be erected when spraying pesticide in public places.

(3) The Department of Health investigates all complaints it receives. The department advises that to date it has found no evidence of misapplication of pesticides by local governments.

(4) Yes; councils are required to comply with the Health (Pesticides) Regulations 2011. The Department of Health has produced a detailed guideline to assist councils in the management of pesticides in pest control programs, and many councils have adopted the guidelines. The Department of Health environmental health directorate follows up all complaints about alleged misapplication of pesticides in Western Australia, and in all but a very few cases has found that local governments and their contractors comply with relevant legislation and standards.