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NSW Weed Reforms FAQs

Weeds reform background

The Natural Resource Commission Weeds Review 2014 found significant differences in the effectiveness of weed management across NSW. This was largely because of complex processes and duplications in planning, delivery and funding arrangements. 

The weed reforms provide an opportunity to deliver better outcomes on a landscape scale and allow operations across both organisational and tenancy boundaries.

What is Local Land Services' responsibility?

Local Land Services' responsibilities are defined in the Natural Resource Commission Weed Review recommendations as:

  • delivering regional strategic weed management plans
  • facilitating and coordinating regional strategic planning 
  • assisting with education and community outreach programs.

Local Land Services has been given responsibility to replace 14 existing Weed Advisory Committees with 11 statutory Regional Weed Committees. These regional committees will comprise Local Control Authorities, public and private landholders and community members. The establishment of regional committees is a high priority for Local Land Services to support regional planning under the Biosecurity Act.

What will change under the new Biosecurity Act?

Under Biosecurity Act legislation, the concept of a general biosecurity duty has been adopted. This is consistent with the principles of the NSW Biosecurity Strategy that biosecurity is everyone's responsibility.

General biosecurity duty applies to any person who deals with biosecurity matters, including weeds. It means that anyone who knows, or ought reasonably to know, that the issue poses a risk should take all reasonable and practical measures to minimise or eliminate that risk.

There will be a closer focus on regional strategic weed management plans to ensure compliance obligations for weeds at the state and regional level. These plans provide the basis for eradication and containment strategies at various scales. 

Complementing these regional strategic weed management plans will be two new regulatory tools:

  1. The Control Order, used to enforce time-constrained programs
  2. The Biosecurity Zone, which will be used to establish longer-term containment obligations.

What is the role and function of the State Weeds Committee?

The State Weeds Committee is responsible for ensuring a coordinated and strategic approach to weed management. The committee will: 

  • ensure regional weed committees operate on a tenure-blind basis and implement regional strategic weed management plans that are effective, risk-based and inclusive of all major stakeholders in the landscape
  • evaluate weed declarations, based on potential long-term risks and impacts to the economy, environment and community
  • establish a high-risk incursion fund
  • evaluate the effectiveness of weed management programs.

How is Local Land Services coordinating its role in the weed reforms?

Local Land Services has set up a cross-regional team to ensure the implementation of NRC Weed Review recommendations is coordinated across the state.

Weeds Cross Regional Team members are:

  • Hans Hietbrink – Chair
  • Brett Miners –Senior Executive Team Business Lead
  • Bridget Boreham - Executive Support Unit
  • six other Local Land Services representatives 
  • one representative from the Department of Primary Industries (DPI).

Their primary objective is to support the smooth and efficient transition to regional committees. They will be engaging with stakeholders, including the State Weeds Committee, DPI and local government to progress the weed reforms.

How can we balance state and regional needs?

Our approach is to build on past weed management successes to achieve a balance between statewide consistency and regional diversity. One way to achieve this balance is by establishing a Weeds Community of Practice that will be made up of Local Land Services staff who have lead the establishment of weed committees in their regions.

The Community of Practice is the key mechanism to communicate information to and from the cross regional team and to share information, learnings and products across the regions.

How has local government been involved?

Although regional committees will involve a range of partners, Local Land Services has worked closely with local government due to their major role in weed management under the existing legislation. Local Government Association representatives addressed the cross regional team on issues such as the transition to regional committees and funding.
 
Several elected local government representatives have actively contributed their experience to the cross regional team to support the decision making and strategic planning processes that will help achieve the reforms. DPI and the Office of Environment and Heritage have also provided submissions to the cross regional team.

What is the next step to implement the reforms? 

The Weeds Cross Regional Team has developed a model terms of reference for establishing and operating regional committees. The model evolved from the Charter for Regional Weed Committees in the NSW Weeds Action Program 2015-2020 Guidelines. It also aligns with the terms of reference for Local Land Services Community Advisory Groups. 

This process drew on the experience and knowledge of people involved with existing local control authorities. The model terms acknowledge that local negotiations will result in a range of approaches for sub-committee and working group structures established under regional committees. 

Regional planning

What will the function of regional committees be? 

The functions of regional weeds committees will include:

  • acting as a community advisory group with representative regional weed managers
  • developing regional strategic weed management plans
  • ensuring consistency across land tenancies
  • supporting the implementation of the weeds component and underlining principles of the NSW Biosecurity Strategy, NSW Biosecurity Act and the NSW Invasive Species Plan
  • endorsing regional strategic weed management plans and seeking funding, based on plan priorities
  • allocating state funding to local control authorities, based on the regional strategic weed management plan
  • providing a forum for the community and stakeholders
  • developing education and awareness programs based on local and/or regional priority weeds and issues.

When will regional committees be formed?

We plan to have the majority of the 11 regional weeds committees established by the end of 2015. Some will not meet until early 2016 so will need interim arrangements, particularly to support funding delivery.

Who will make up the regional committees?

As a general guide, 15 members is considered a reasonable and workable number to achieve strategic outcomes and develop streamlined governance structures. However, local Boards have the flexibility to meet local needs and priorities. The regional Local Land Services Board will review the membership to ensure that the committee reflects the characteristics of the region.

Membership will include:

  • Local Land Services 
  • Local Control Authorities 
  • NSW Department of Primary Industries
  • Office of Environment and Heritage, including National Parks and Wildlife Service
  • Environmental interests
  • NSW Farmers
  • Aboriginal land managers
  • Landcare 
  • public land managers.

This will ensure a strong alignment with the State Weeds Committee and facilitate strong communication links and effective weed management across the state.

How will stakeholder groups be approached to nominate representatives to local committees?

Local Land Services regions are developing and implementing communication and engagement strategies with regional stakeholders to help them set up regional committees. The process may vary across regions to reflect the diversity of existing structures, communities and weed management issues. 

What support will be provided to regional committees?

There are a range of investors in regional weed management and they have preferences for how their money is spent. Participation on the regional weeds committees is their opportunity to guide strategic direction of the funding streams. 

Each Local Land Services region has responsibility for resourcing their regional committees. Appropriate processes will be provided to support non-government committee members. 

The model terms of reference provides a guide for the regional committees in how to discuss, identify and adopt a funding model to support its ongoing operations. 

One funding stream is the NSW Weeds Action Plan 1520 which will provide funding to produce planning documents and other compliance and capacity building outcomes.

Will working groups be set up? 

A range of support structures will be required to achieve the outcomes in each region. This may include setting up working groups. Each regional committee will discuss and establish suitable structures to support, not duplicate, the committee's role.

When will regional plans be developed? 

The new regional weeds committees will develop their regional strategic weed management plans over the next 12 to 18 months. 

What happens to the old plans? 

In the meantime, the existing plans and strategies will be relevant and will support regional decision making. Existing regional plans may be incorporated into the new regional strategic weed management plans and will be used as vital reference documents. 

NSW Weeds Action Plan 

What is a 'lead agency'?

Under the NSW Weeds Action Plan, a lead agency is a regional organisation that accepts responsibility for the local implementation of the plan. The lead agency collates and submits project proposals. Lead agencies may be Local Land Services, local control authorities, public authorities or regional organisations of councils.

What will happen to the plan when regional committees are formed? 

Weeds Action Plan 1520 projects are implemented by each lead agency. They receive and allocate funds received from the NSW Government. Some funds are used by the lead agency to deliver cross-regional outcomes. Typically, the lead agency has applied for funding and declared what will be achieved over the five-year period. 

The lead agency collects monitoring data and produces relevant documentation during that time. Indicators include the number of high risk pathways inspected; number of property inspections; number of school education events held, etc.

Weeds Action Plan 1520 bids have been finalised and the Minister for Primary Industries has approved funding allocations to each region. DPI determines the distribution of funds by an objective allocation model. 

What is the connection between the action plan and regional committees?

The Weeds Action Plan is a different and pre-existing process. It should be viewed as distinct from the establishment of regional weeds committees. Forming regional committees may present an opportunity to change who administers regional projects in the future. This may become a regional committee role. In the meantime, the lead role rests with local government.

When will Weeds Action Plan funding be available?

All regions have received an initial pre-payment of $120,000 from Weeds Action Plan 1520. The remainder of funding will be finalised and contracts in place soon.

Relationships and roles

What is the relationship between the State Weed Committee and regional committees?

The state committee will ensure that regional committees align with the statewide model terms of reference and provide guidance where necessary.

What are the roles of agencies and land managers?

Local Land Services regions are responsible for:

  • forming regional weeds committees
  • ensuring regional committees function appropriately
  • producing and coordinating the delivery of strategic weed management plans
  • facilitating strategic planning 
  • supporting community engagement programs.

The Minister for Primary Industries is responsible for managing biosecurity threats.  

NSW Department of Primary Industries takes ultimate responsibility for weed management in NSW, including:

  • administering the Biosecurity Act
  • weed research 
  • policy development, including new weed incursions
  • delivering funding through Weed Action Plans.

Local Land Services supports DPI through community engagement programs and by establishing and supporting regional committees.

Local councils are typically the Local Control Authority for weeds. The Natural Resource Commission Weed Review (2014) recommended that this arrangement remain. Local control authorities are responsible for:

  • enforcing weed declarations
  • developing community awareness
  • building capacity
  • conducting inspections
  • serving notices, fines and infringements under the relevant legislation.

Local control authorities have systems for planning weed management activities that may remain unchanged.
Regional Weeds Committees will ensure that weed declarations are consistent across the Local Land Services region. This will result in clearer expectations and help achieve compliance.
Owners and occupiers of private land are required to control declared weeds.

Local Control Authorities will enforce weed declarations and local committees will ensure consistency of declarations within each region

How do I find out more?

Bridget Boreham
Executive Support Unit, Local Land Services
(02) 6881 3403