Insecticide Spraying Across Victoria – Extend Community Consultation Submission Date

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On the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, we have a problem with the possibility of a mass spraying of peoples' homes over an area of 25 square kilometres in an "experiment" to see whether Buruli Ulcer is being spread by mosquitoes.

No link has been proven between mosquitoes and the spread of the disease, so culling mosquitoes, as "experimental" logic would have it, is vital to proving this link.

But why embark on a mass spraying program?

And why choose to spray with Bifenthrin, an insecticide which was banned in Sweden as a carcinogen as far back as 1992 and is today classified in Australia (according to its Data Sheet) as a 1B for carcinogenicity, meaning that it is presumed to have carcinogenic potential for humans, largely based on animal evidence.

For the moment the excitement has died down, with the community having voiced fairly strong disapproval of the spraying, particularly in light of the revelation that a reduction in the number of mosquitoes can be achieved using other much safer methods.

The Mornington Peninsula Shire is requesting expert advice on the various issues involved and plans to consult more thoroughly with the community. The Shire also talks of offering an ‘Opt-in’ program for those residents who want their properties sprayed. The Federal Minster for Health, Greg Hunt, deemed this a 'very positive change' worth considering when he spoke at the public meeting held in Rye on August 10, 2019.

Unfortunately, the Victorian State Government might have other ideas…                                                         

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Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations Review
 
On August 20, 2019, the Andrews Government released on it’s ‘Engage Victoria’ website a Community Consultation regarding proposed legislative changes to the Public Health & Wellbeing Act INCLUDING proposed changes regarding the control of vector-borne diseases, mosquitoes in particular. 
 
The Government wants to change legislation so they have the power to spray insecticide without community consent under a hypothesis that mosquitoes need to be controlled as a vector for disease.
 
The current legislation only allows for the control of Mosquito’s at the larval stage.
 
The proposed legislation seeks to control Mosquito’s at all stages, which can only mean that larvicide, residual sprays and fogging will become legislation under the Health and Wellbeing Act.
 
Link 1: The full consultation can be found here - 
https://engage.vic.gov.au/phwr-sunset-review 

Link 2: The regulatory impact statement for vector-borne disease control can be found here -
https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/5215/6592/0323/Sunset_Review_of_Public_Health_and_Wellbeing_Regulations_RIS_-_Chapter_1_Vector-borne_infectious_disease_control.pdf 
 
This impact statement is somewhat deceptive. On page 19 we are offered 3 options: 
 
      • Option 1: Retain the current regulations without changes 
      • Option 2: Amend some aspects of the current regulations 
      • Option 3: Remove or reduce the requirements of the current regulations 
 
Option 2 is what the government is hoping we will support, without qualification...however, it is quite misleading in that there is no mention of insecticide spraying in the ensuing discussion of what the three options actually call for when it comes to mosquito control.
 
The only mention of insecticide spraying is to be found on page 18, discretely tucked in at the end of a short section entitled 'Hazard': 
 
The current regulations limit the potential to control the hazard and do not address alternative control practices such as adult mosquito spraying or residual insecticide application.
 
Submissions can be made until September 30 by clicking on Link 1 above.

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A 6-week time limit for an entire state to discuss such a vital change to our legislation (i.e. the spraying of highly toxic chemicals around our homes without an opt-in mechanism for residents to decide for themselves) is absurd

We are already doing untold damage across our state, indeed the entire country, through the spraying of environmentally destructive herbicides, pesticides and insecticides.(https://pesticides.australianmap.net)

Giving a bureaucracy the unimpeded right to do so with scant regard for ecosystems, communities and citizen input is foolhardy in the extreme.

Earlier this year, on March 19, the current government sprayed three streets in Rye as part of the Buruli experiment (Dawn, French & Goyarra Streets) with neither an opt-in or opt-out measure offered to residents living on these streets, resulting in great distress for the residents and the loss of 3 hives to a local beekeeper. (https://pesticides.australianmap.net/location/victoria/)

And indeed, so much more tellingly, the hellish trauma that Barwon Heads is still living through, where a decades-long fog of toxic insecticide has given way to a fog of grief and despair, says all we need to know.
https://7news.com.au/news/vic/cancer-cluster-fears-calls-for-inquiry-to-reveal-if-chemicals-caused-deaths-c-83734

We need to be working WITH our environment and thinking creatively. 

There are healthier and kinder ways of interfering with mosquito populations like removing stagnant water and building micro bat nesting boxes. Council vigilance in terms of checking houses for places where mosquitos breed is another way to curb the incidence of disease. 
 
Townsville got rid of Dengue Fever outbreaks completely by releasing 4 million mosquitoes carrying the Wolbachia bacteria:
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/australian-city-beats-dengue-fever-using-special-mosquitoes-180969857/  

We need 'alternative control practices' that do not destroy fragile ecosystems, wipe out innumerable insect species and small creatures, and give birds, animals and humans cancer and other horrific diseases.
 
PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION URGING JENNY MIKAKOS, THE VICTORIAN MINISTER FOR HEALTH, TO EXTEND THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS TO GIVE ALL VICTORIANS ADEQUATE TIME TO LOOK INTO THE ISSUES AND CONTRIBUTE.