Page 1703 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 3 May 2005

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where people may act out of ignorance and they will be subject to strict liability offences, and that is something that is untenable. I do commend the government for this as a model for how a strict liability offence should apply.

In sum, this is an “all right” piece of legislation and is a significant improvement on what we currently have. The Liberal opposition believe that we could do better, and to that end I will propose before we get to the detail stage that this be referred to the planning and environment committee for inquiry and report.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (12.14), in reply: The Pest Plants and Animals Bill provides for a more strategic approach to protecting the ACT’s land and aquatic resources from threats posed by pest plants and pest animals. It allows for the formal recognition of a pest by declaration, the development of a management response to threats from a declared pest, and regulation of activities that may foster the spread of a pest or the introduction of a potential pest to the territory.

The bill repeals the current pest management provisions of the Land (Planning and Environment) Act 1991. It establishes stand-alone legislation that significantly strengthens the basis for management of pest plants and animals. It reflects nationally agreed principles for pest management and is consistent with new pest management legislation introduced in New South Wales.

The bill establishes a system for declarations of pest plants and pest animals based on their threat to agriculture, the environment or the community. The bill provides for the minister to declare a plant or animal as a pest. The declaration is an important step in that it formally recognises that a plant or animal poses a significant threat and that management or control measures are required.

While the current provisions of the land act provide for the declaration of a pest, this bill goes significantly further. The Pest Plants and Animals Bill establishes certain classes of declaration that indicate the current infestation status of the pest in terms of its distribution or abundance and the most practical approach to its management. For example, a declaration may state that a pest plant must be suppressed—that is, its level of infestation must be reduced. A declaration of this kind would apply to a plant that is present in the ACT at a level where reduction in its distribution or abundance is achievable with current knowledge, techniques and resources. Eradication may be a long-term goal. Pest plants such as willows or broom would likely fall into this class.

A declaration may state that a pest plant must be contained—that is, its present level of infestation must not be allowed to increase. A declaration of this kind recognises that the pest of concern is well established and that current knowledge, techniques and resources will not be able to change this situation. Examples of this class of weed would be St John’s wort and Paterson’s curse. They are so well established and widespread that total suppression or eradication is now regarded as not a practical proposition. In these cases, management programs would target areas of concern where the weed poses a threat in terms of impact on particular environmental, agricultural or community values. Members would appreciate that the degree of threat posed by a weed may vary according to land use or management objectives for the area.

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