Invasive plants failure leaves biosecurity time bomb ticking
The peak body representing Queensland councils has expressed its frustration that a long-awaited report into State Parliament’s ‘Inquiry into invasive plants and their control in Queensland’ has been released with no recommendations.
Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) Chief Executive, Greg Hallam, said the lack of action after almost two years is particularly concerning.
'The LGAQ and a number of member councils invested time and resources to make relevant and considered submissions to the inquiry in January 2017, flagging key concerns at the – then – current state of play. To come out almost two years later, without a single solution to a burgeoning problem, is a travesty.
'Queensland’s councils have the local knowledge and community networks that are vital to increasing the state’s weed management capability, but they need resourcing and other support to be able to keep doing this important work.
'Councils already spend $45 million each year in controlling invasive plants and animals but many are fearful that current funding will see them fall short of legislative obligations and, most importantly, the expectations of their communities,' Mr Hallam said.
Current key advocacy asks from Queensland’s 77 local governments include:
- $5 million for the control of prickly acacia following the monsoon trough event, to combat a mass outbreak in the state’s north-west
- Funding in non-drought areas with a focus on environmental biosecurity for the protection of areas with high environmental value, and
- Expansion of the Queensland Feral Pest Initiative to expand invasive plant control in drought declared areas.
Mr Hallam said this week’s drought declaration in eight further Queensland shires and councils highlights the need for decisive action against plant pests.
'Just yesterday we saw the number of drought-declared councils reach 41, plus drought-listed properties for another five, so the conditions are optimal for proactive control works because growth has already declined.
'The inquiry report pinpointed key issues that were not backed up with recommendations, including the ‘ever-increasing resourcing burden’ weed management places on local governments.
'It urged direct funding support, better inter-governmental and community collaboration, and the creation of consistent and freely available educational materials to assist councils in this vital work.
'The report identified a lack of resources and funding to train rural officers, and specifically stated that additional funding is needed for councils to conduct compliance, yet we remain in the dark on the State Government’s intentions,' Mr Hallam said.
Further, difficulties for councils in dealing with government departments over weed infestations on Crown land drew special attention to the need for the State Lands Pest Management Committee to address key concerns and enunciate a greater strategic direction and oversight for weed management across the state.
'Weeds don’t stop their spread just because council land becomes Crown land and vice versa,' Mr Hallam said.
See the LGAQ submission to the ‘Inquiry into invasive plants and their control in Queensland’.
Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006
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