The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) undertook an internal strategic review of the legislative framework for the management of invasive plants and animals in 2011 and assessed current legislation that relates to biosecurity incidents under the National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement (NEBRA). Both reviews highlighted a strong case for the development of new legislation for the management of invasive species, given the range of issues that was identified, and the extent of amendments that would be required to existing legislation.
Key deficiencies in the current legislative framework for the management of invasive species include: inadequate legislative provisions to enable greater emphasis on prevention and early intervention; over-reliance on a complex system of declaration categories as part of the basis for determining the responsibilities for managing particular invasive species; and the limited coverage to deal with incursions of a range of invasive species by existing biosecurity legislation.
Victoria's Biosecurity Standing Committee and the Minister for Agriculture and Food Security have approved the development of a new stand-alone Invasive Species Management Act to replace the noxious weeds and pest animal provisions of the CaLP Act and close the gaps in powers to deal with incursions of taxonomic groups currently not, or only partially, covered by Victoria's biosecurity legislation.
DPI has developed a framework outlining the architecture and key concepts for the proposed Invasive Species Management Act for Victoria. Figure 1 provides a visual illustration of the proposed conceptual framework.
Figure 1 Conceptual framework describing the proposed new invasive species management legislation
The key elements of the proposed framework for new invasive species legislation are:
- Objective. The proposed objective of the legislation is to provide a framework for effective management of the risks posed by invasive species to Victoria's economy, community and environment, including Victoria's land and water and including the means to control the entry, establishment, spread and impact of invasive species.
- Scope of the proposed legislation. Key concepts are:
- Taxonomic scope. The legislation will cover terrestrial and aquatic invasive vertebrate and invertebrate animals and invasive plants but it will not cover those taxonomic groups that are already covered by the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994 and the Plant Biosecurity Act 2010, nor will it apply to species native to Victoria.
- Geographic scope. The legislation will apply to all land and waters in the State of Victoria, regardless of tenure.
- Matters to be satisfied for declaration of a pest. Matters to be satisfied for declaration will include the threat posed by invasive species to economic, social and environmental values.
- Declaration categories. The legislation will contain two categories of declared pests based on the management strategies advocated by Victoria's approach to biosecurity. Category 1 will be around the management approach of 'prevention and early intervention' and category 2 around 'on-going management'.
- Carriers of invasive species. The legislation will enable carriers of invasive species to be prescribed in order to regulate the risk associated with these carriers to acceptable levels.
- Obligations. The third element sets out the obligations of parties to control invasive pests, and the mechanisms that will be provided to detail, vary, and discharge these obligations. The proposed legislation will provide:
- A range of subordinate legislative instruments, including regulations, codes of practice, permits, management plans, guidelines and compliance agreements.
- 'General obligations' that will apply to all declaration categories (for example in relation to keeping, breeding, or cultivating an invasive species).
- Obligations specific to the declaration categories.
- Obligations in relation to prescribed carriers of invasive species.
- Government powers. This element of the conceptual framework will provide the Government with powers to:
- undertake actions to reduce the risks posed by invasive species and prescribed carriers
- intervene to address failure on the part of a regulated party to discharge his or her obligation.
- Administrative provisions to ensure proper functioning of the legislation (for example the ability to authorise an officer, delegate powers and functions, and to set fees and charges).
Policy decisions will inform when and how the legislation is to be used, while successful implementation may require enabling activities such as awareness raising, extension and education.
The development of the new Invasive Species Management Act is intended to:
- close the gap in powers to deal with incursions of taxonomic groups currently not covered by Victoria's biosecurity legislation (for example red imported fire ants and invasive aquatic pests that do not impact on our fisheries resources)
- provide the Minister responsible for biosecurity policy, with the administrative responsibility for the legislation
- simplify, standardise and combine invasive species provisions into a comprehensive, yet easy to understand, enabling piece of legislation
- introduce provisions to curtail the increasing risks associated with increased movements and trade and provide a better range of legislative tools
- result in greater alignment to biosecurity policy, including the approaches to prevention, eradication, containment and management for impact reduction.