Invasive Species Regulatory Improvement Study
The Biosecurity unit of the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources has carried out a study of its regulation of invasive species with the help of the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission. The study aimed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the regulation of invasive species in Victoria by formalising a risk based approach.
The study focussed on two key biosecurity objectives:
- preventing the introduction of and eradicating new invasive species – particularly weeds; and
- protecting assets from the impacts of widely-established invasive species – particularly high-impact weeds and rabbits.
The study found:
- there is a need to clarify the risk-based policy framework;
- the declaration process needs guiding principles and review points;
- there are opportunities to improve the performance of compliance tools; and
- there is a need to improve monitoring and evaluation processes.
Risk based policy framework
As a result of the study, the department will develop a risk statement. This will guide the prioritisation of action on invasive species, using risk-assessment and cost benefit analysis techniques where appropriate. It will also be useful in informing stakeholders about how the Department makes decisions and carries out its job. The statement will acknowledge that regulation cannot remove all harms associated with invasive species and explain how the Department intends to prioritise its efforts on the basis of an assessment of the probability and consequences of harm.
The statement will clarify that the Department's efforts will be targeted to activities that are likely to achieve the greatest net benefit. The Department will use the risk statement to improve its communication with Departmental staff, regulated parties and the broader Victorian public about the priorities and rationale for action on invasive species. In addition, when the Department revises and updates the Plants and Animals Policy Framework, it will include the risk statement in this framework document.
The revised framework will also include principles to guide decisions on declaring species. These will incorporate assessment of:
- the combined invasiveness and impact of a species as measured through formal risk assessment if possible;
- the detectability of a species;
- whether achievement of declaration objectives is feasible and cost-effective;
- level of community support for declaration; and
- the likelihood that the overall public benefits of declaration would outweigh the costs.
Information on the implementation of these principles, including how the declaration process is to be administered, will be provided for both staff and external stakeholders.
Review of declarations
The Department will develop a policy on the regular review of declarations and on ensuring declarations are kept up to date with any new information.
The Department will revise the Draft Compliance Strategy to clearly articulate the process and rationale for addressing potentially competing considerations for investment. It is important to balance the assessment of risk and priorities for action with a consideration of community concern. The Department will also identify qualitative and quantitative benchmarks to help clarify and explain the risk based approach to regulation and compliance.
Authorised Officers will be given updated guidance and training in the drivers of compliance and non-compliance. In addition the Department will develop a policy to support community-led action on invasive species. This will include identifying the types of support that government can provide to community efforts.
Monitoring and evaluation
Where it is feasible to gather evidence of the actual costs and benefits of invasive species projects, the Department will review projects to inform estimates of the expected costs and benefits of future similar projects. In the longer term this may enable the Department to move from an input output assessment of its performance to performance assessment based on the outcomes of its work.
Should you wish to obtain a copy of the full report of the Invasive Species Regulatory Improvement Study, please contact Will De Milliano on firstname.lastname@example.org.