Barnaby Joyce, the deputy prime minister, said the only way to get rid of the ‘bottom-dwelling, mudsucking’ fish was to unleash herpes on it.
The A$15m ($11m; £8m) eradication program, dubbed ‘Carpageddon’ by the government, aims to rid the Murray-Darling Basin of carp.
Mr Joyce’s spirited rant was met with laughter in Australia’s lower house.
Carp were first introduced to Australia in 1859, but numbers exploded in the 1960s after an adapted fish-farming strain was accidently released into the wild.
It’s estimated carp make up around 80-90% of the fish biomass within the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia’s most important agriculture region.
The carp are prolific breeders that compete with native fish.
Their toothless jaws mean they need to feed at the bottom of rivers, which causes erosion and makes the water turbid, reducing water quality.
Mr Joyce said the invasive species was costing the Australian economy up to A$500m per year.
The federal government wants to release cyprinid herpesvirus (carp herpesvirus) – which first appeared in Israel – into the Murray River to kill around 95% of the carp.
Science minister Christopher Pyne said the virus would have no impact on humans, but the clean-up would be costly. Thousands of carp are expected to die after the virus is released.
‘Suddenly, there will be literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions of tonnes of carp that will be dead in the River Murray,’ Mr Pyne said.