Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The High Court, cane toads and ants

Hearings in the High Court on the Pape case continue today. I am not close enough to comment on the detail of the argument. The Commonwealth's fall-back position, Senior Counsel for NSW argue that it is the only constitutionally valid position, is to link the stimulus payment to the Commonwealth's tax power. The payment would then be made as a tax refund, but only if the tax payer had paid tax and up to the limit of the tax paid.

Reading some of the commentary, people don't care about the issue, they want the money. So if Mr Pape wins they are going to chew him over like a mob of angry bull-ants.

Ants are not to be sneezed at. I was struck by a story in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald. Apparently, Australia's meat ant can eat cane toad young (picture).

meatant-470x0 Cane toads were deliberately introduced from Hawaii to Australia in 1935 to control scarab beetles that were pests of sugar cane. Large, poisonous and with no natural predators, they have spread and spread throughout the more tropical parts of the continent.

Much excitement, since the cane toads really a blight on the landscape.

Living in an Australian urban environment as I now do, I had really forgotten the role that ants play in the bush. Brought memories back - a bull-ant bite really hurts.


TPC said...

Meat ants (Iridomyrmex purpureus) killing cane toads is an interesting concept, however, I would suggest that this would only happen on very rare occasions, if ever. Looking at the published photograph I can see that the cane toad is mumified and the ant is investigating a potential food source. Meat ants do not sting but rely on force of numbers to tear a potential victim apart. I would seriously doubt that a meat ant would be able to penetrate a cane toads skin with its mandibles let alone kill it and tear it apart.

Jim Belshaw said...

And it was such a good story too,TPC! Thanks for the correction.