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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

Noxious Weeds

Noxious Weeds.

Mr Wilson moved, "That the Government be asked to prepare a Bill to deal with the noxious weeds question, and this Conference offers such suggestions as it seems desirable for the drafting of the Bill."

Mr Pashby seconded the resolution.

Mr Murphy, secretary of the Conference, then read an interesting paper on noxious weeds.

Mr Fisher said it would be a good thing to take the Bill dealing with this matter which was introduced last session.

Mr Ritchie explained how the error crept into the Bill, a copy of which was sent out to the various agricultural and pastoral associations last year.

Mr Dunlop said he had not heard any mention of a plant which grew in his district called the rag-weed. It was said by the Government veterinary surgeon not to be poisonous, but he knew for a fact that it was injurious to horses.

Mr Roberts did not wish the remarks of the last speaker to go unchallenged, as he (Mr Patrick) had a paddock in which the weed grew, and no harm came to the animals that fed on it. To his mind the only way of dealing with the Californian thistle was to prevent it seeding.

Mr Pharazyn said there was an idea that legislation would cure everything. With regard to the penalties proposed by the Legisla- page 12 ture against those allowing the Scotch thistle to grow on their property, he found that, on making an examination of his property one fine morning, that he was liable to a fine of £100,000, but as he knew this could not be enforced, he felt very easy over the matter.

Mr Murphy explained that the rag-weed was a species of groundsel, and was of a very astringent nature. He pointed out the dangers arising from allowing gorse and broom to grow in river-beds, and thus divert the course of the streams.

Mr Grigg said this was one of the most important matters they had to deal with. Another matter which required their attention was the sale of grass and clover that contained the seeds of noxious weeds. Merchants in selling seeds to farmers protected themselves by putting a clause in their invoices to the effect that they would not be responsible for the presence of noxious seeds in their goods. This is a question which the Government should provide for in passing a Noxious Weeds Bill.

Mr Buchanan said there was great difficulty in dealing with this matter. Some river-beds are covered with gorse Sweet; briar was also troublesome, but goats were said to destroy it by browsing on it. Even willows sometimes prove harmful when they grew out in the course of the rivers. A vote of £200,000 was passed in America for the eradication of the Russian thistle, which had only made its appearance within a few years. No Canterbury clover seed would be bought now in the North Island, as it was supposed to be infected with the Californian thistle. They were only beating the air if committees were only appointed to consider the matter.

Mr Kirkbride pointed out that the responsibility of clearing the Crown and other lands was thrown on the shoulders of the local bodies by the Bill which was introduced last year.

Mr Barnett said the proper way of dealing with the Californian thistle was to prevent it flowering.

After remarks by Messrs Chaytor and Ritchie, the resolution was put to the meeting and carried.

A suggestion by Mr McLaren that before the Bill becomes law it be submitted to the various agricultural and pastorial societies and local bodies in the colonies was agreed to.

Mr Henderson moved, "That a committee be appointed to assist to draw up a Noxious Weeds Bill, consisting of the following:—Messrs Fisher, Kirkbride, Dunlop, Grigg, Overton, Roberts, Murphy, Henderson, McLaren, Chaytor and Seon."

This was agreed to.

Mr Buchanan suggested that the Secretary write to the Railway Commissioners and enquire when it would be convenient to arrange for an interview with the committee set up to consider railway charges.

The Conference then adjourned until 10 a.m. next day.