1978 October. Abrolhos Islands (WA) Spray Drift. Pesticide: 2,4-D

Legislative Assembly (Western Australia)
Tuesday, the 17th October, 1978


MR CARR (Geraldton) [8.31 p.m.]: I would like to take this opportunity during the general
Budget debate to deal with three matters of concern to my electorate. The first concerns
damage done to tomato crops by the herbicide 2,4-D ester. This is a matter of very great concern to tomato growers in the Geraldton area; particularly this year, although it has been a problem for many years.

Members will be familiar with the publicity given recently to damage to tomato gardens. Last
night’s issue of the Daily News carried the suggestion that the Government may be on the
verge of announcing an inquiry into the problem. I do not know whether that is true or not; I hope it is, but I would prefer to see the Government take father stronger action than that….

Mr CARR: There is much for members to be interested in. I am pleased the Minister for
Agriculture is in the Chamber as the matter does concern him. I would like to compare the 2,4-D ester with the 2,4-D amine. There is a much more serious problem associated with the 2,4-D ester. The reason is that the ester drifts over tremendous distances and vaporises very easily. It can drift over distances of 40 miles. Farmers who are familiar with the smell of 2,4-D have reported smelling the spray on the Abroihos Islands. This illustrates the extent to which this spray can drift and cause trouble,
The spray can hang in the air for periods of several days. Another problem is that after the
spray has settled on a crop, it can vaporise on a hot day and once it is in the air again it can be moved about by the wind. A farmer therefore can spray in apparent safety and the spray can settle on the crop but with the advent of hot weather the problem is reactivated when the spray vaporises.