House of Representatives Committees

House Standing Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Committee activities (inquiries and reports)

Taking Control: a national approach to pest animals

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November 2005

Canberra

© Commonwealth of Australia 2005

ISBN 0 642 78731 X (printed version)

ISBN 0 642 78732 8 (HTML version)


Contents

Foreword
Membership of the Committee
Terms of reference
List of abbreviations
List of recommendations
Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 Pest animal issues confronting agriculture
Chapter 3 Economic, environmental and social impacts of pest animals
Chapter 4 National coordination
Chapter 5 Prevention and early detection of pest species
Chapter 6 Methods for controlling pest animals
Chapter 7 Control across tenures
Chapter 8 Pests as resources
Chapter 9 Research and development
Chapter 10 Community education and awareness about pest animals

Appendix A List of submissions
Appendix B List of exhibits
Appendix C List of public hearings
Appendix D Inspections and discussions
Appendix E Primary legislation for pest animal control
Appendix F Proposed National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee – Terms of Reference

Foreword

Pest animals are one of the most serious issues currently facing Australian farmers. Wild dogs, feral pigs, foxes, rabbits and many other pest species have a tremendous impact on agricultural industries, both in lost production and control costs. Pest animals also impact on the environment, competing with native species, destroying native plants and causing land degradation.

The message from farmers and others in the community in relation to pest animals is clear. If urgent action is not taken to address these problems, the consequences for the economy and the environment will be dire. Pastoralists in areas of the country are already being forced out of sheep by wild dogs – if something is not done to rid the country of this dangerous predator, more and more families will be forced to leave their sheep-farming enterprises.

Approaches to managing pest animal problems currently vary across state and territory jurisdictions, making coordinated cross-border control difficult. A recurring theme of this inquiry has been the need for a national approach to the pest animal problem. The committee has addressed this national inequity by recommending the formation of a National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee, comprising state and territory government representatives.

The proposed National Committee would be supported by a National Pest Animals Advisory Committee, akin to the recently-formed National Weeds Advisory Group. This would include members of local and community pest animal control groups, conservation and landcare groups, animal welfare organisations, and representatives of agricultural and pastoral industries.

The need for research into new and improved pest animal control techniques was also a feature of the inquiry. The committee has recommended that the newly-formed Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre play a role in coordinating research priorities nationally, to ensure that maximum benefit is obtained from the myriad of uncoordinated initiatives occurring around the country.

In its report, the committee makes a number of recommendations as to ways of improving pest animal management. These include increased state and territory government expenditure directed at on-ground control and eradication, and better management of pest animal problems on government land. The committee has also recommended that people be able to harvest pest animals as a resource, where there is the potential to do so as part of an overall strategy for controlling pest populations.

This inquiry was commenced by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry of the 40 th Parliament. The current committee recognised the need for an inquiry such as this one and continued it into the 41 st Parliament. I would like to express, on behalf of the committee, our thanks to the previous committee for its contribution to this inquiry. In particular, thank you to the previous Chair, Mrs Kay Elson MP, Member for Forde.

I would also like to thank the many individuals and organisations who gave evidence in relation to this inquiry. In particular, the committee would like to acknowledge the warm hospitality spontaneously given by farmers and landholders in Tasmania and Western Australia. Their warmth and generosity were greatly appreciated.

 

Alby Schultz MP

Chair

Membership of the Committee

41st Parliament

Chair

Mr Alby Schultz MP

 

Deputy Chair

The Hon Dick Adams MP

 

Members

Mr Martin Ferguson MP

Mr Gavan O’Connor MP

 

Mr Michael Ferguson MP

Mr Patrick Secker MP

 

Mr John Forrest MP

The Hon Wilson Tuckey MP

 

Mr Peter Lindsay MP

Mr Tony Windsor MP

40th Parliament

Chair

Mrs Kay Elson MP

 

Deputy Chair

The Hon Dick Adams MP

 

Members

Mr John Forrest MP

Mr Patrick Secker MP

 

Mrs Sussan Ley MP

Mr Sid Sidebottom MP

 

Mr Harry Quick MP

The Hon Wilson Tuckey MP

 

Mr Alby Schultz MP

Mr Tony Windsor MP

Committee Secretariat

Secretary

Mr Ian Dundas

Research Officer

Ms Kylie Weston-Scheuber

Administrative Officer

Mrs Marlene Dundas

Terms of Reference

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is to inquire into the impact on agriculture of pest animals particularly:

  1. To identify nationally significant pest animal issues and consider how existing Australian and State government processes can be better linked for more coordinated management of these issues across State boundaries.
  2. To consider the approaches to pest animal issues across all relevant jurisdictions, including:
  3. Consider the adequacy of State Government expenditure on pest animal control in the context of other conservation and natural resource management priorities, with particular reference to National Parks.
  4. Consider the scope for industry groups and R&D Corporations to improve their response to landholder concerns about pest animals.
  5. Consider ways to promote community understanding of and involvement in pest animals and their management.

List of abbreviations

AFAS

Australian Fumigation Accreditation Scheme

AHA

Animal Health Australia

AIA CRC

Australasian Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre

APB

Agriculture Protection Board ( Western Australia )

APCCSA

Animal and Plant Control Commission South Australia

APVMA

Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority

AQIS

Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service

AVA

Australian Veterinary Association

AWC

Animal Welfare Centre

BRS

Bureau of Rural Sciences

CALM

Conservation and Land Management Western Australia

CCA

Cattle Council of Australia

CCWA

Conservation Council of Western Australia

CSIRO

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

CWA

Country Women’s Association ( New South Wales )

CRC

Cooperative Research Centre

DAFF

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (Australian Government)

DAWA

Department of Agriculture Western Australia

DEC

Department of Environment and Conservation ( New South Wales )

DEH

Department of Environment and Heritage (Australian Government)

DEST

Department of Education, Science and Training (Australian Government)

DNRM

Department of Natural Resources and Mines (Qld Government)

DPIWE

Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment (Tasmanian Government)

DSE

Department of Sustainability and Environment (Victorian Government)

FFIC

Forests and Forest Industry Council

FGA

Field and Game Australia

NAQS

Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy

NHT

Natural Heritage Trust

NIMTG

National Information Manager’s Technical Group

NPWS

National Parks and Wildlife Service (New South Wales )

NRM

Natural Resource Management (Australian Government)

NRMMC

Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council

NRMSC

Natural Resource Management Standing Committee

NSWFA

New South Wales Farmers’ Association

NSWFACDC

New South Wales Farmers’ Association Cooma District Council

PAC CRC

Pest Animal Control Cooperative Research Centre

PGA

Pastoralists and Graziers Association ( Western Australia )

PHA

Plant Health Australia

PIAPH

Product Integrity/Animal and Plant Health

PISC

Primary Industries Standing Committee

QFF

Queensland Farmers’ Federation

QPWS

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service

RCD/RHD

Rabbit Calicivirus Disease/Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease

RIFA

Red Imported Fire Ant

RLPB

Rural Lands Protection Board

SQCR

Surveillance, Quarantine, Control and Recovery System

SSAA

Sporting Shooters Association of Australia

TFAWG

Tumbarumba Feral Animal Working Group

TFGA

Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association

TGMSU

Tasmanian Game Management Services Unit

USEPA

United States Environmental Protection Agency

VFF

Victorian Farmers Federation

VPC

Vertebrate Pests Committee

WAFF

Western Australia Farmers Federation

ZCA

Zone Control Authority ( Western Australia )

List of recommendations

4 National coordination

Recommendation 1

The committee recommends that the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council amalgamate the Vertebrate Pests Committee and the Australian Weeds Committee to form one National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee, with representation from Australian Government and state and territory governments in the areas of weeds, vertebrate pests and invertebrate pests.

Recommendation 2

The committee recommends that the terms of reference for the new National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee refer to ‘pest animals’, including both vertebrate and invertebrate pests.

Recommendation 3

The committee recommends that the Vertebrate Pests Committee extend the terms of reference for development of a National Pest Animal Strategy to include invertebrate pests.

Recommendation 4

The committee recommends that the Australian Government negotiate with state and territory governments to agree on a suitable joint funding arrangement to expand the funding available to the Australian Pest Animals and Weeds Committee.

Recommendation 5

The committee recommends that the Australian Government match the current funding provided by states and territories towards the Australian Weeds Committee Secretariat, to establish a full-time secretariat servicing the proposed National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee.

Recommendation 6

The committee recommends that the proposed National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee:

Recommendation 7

The committee recommends that the proposed National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee discuss with state and territory representatives ways to improve consistency of pest animal legislation across jurisdictions, where appropriate.

Recommendation 8

The committee recommends that a Pest Animals Advisory Committee be established to provide advice and assistance to the proposed National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee and that it include representatives of agriculture and pastoral industries, conservation bodies, local and state government, industry groups, research organisations, landcare, animal welfare and pest animal management groups. Membership should also include the National Feral Animal Control Program, Animal Health Australia, Australian Wildlife Health Network, Product Integrity/Animal and Plant Health, Plant Health Australia, Biosecurity Australia and the AIA CRC.

Recommendation 9

The committee recommends that cost-sharing arrangements be included in the National Invasive Species Framework, currently under development, and be extended to:

Recommendation 10

The committee recommends that the Australian Government encourage states and territories to appoint a single body responsible for coordinating pest animal management in each jurisdiction. This body would then contribute to a national pest animal effort through membership of the proposed National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee and the proposed National Pest Animals Advisory Committee.

5 Prevention and early detection of pest species

Recommendation 11

The committee recommends that the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry:

Recommendation 12

The committee recommends that the Australian Government:

Recommendation 13

The committee recommends that the Australian Government amend the Australian Postal Corporation Act 1989 to allow state and territory governments to inspect interstate mail for quarantine purposes.

Recommendation 14

The committee recommends that the National Invasive Species Task Group create a ‘List of Invasive Species of National Importance’, including a National Quarantine List, a National Alert List and a National Control List.

Recommendation 15

The committee recommends that the Australian Government:

Recommendation 16

The committee recommends that the proposed National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee establish a national reporting system for pest animals and consult with the National Information Manager’s Technical Group in relation to possible application of the National Surveillance, Quarantine, Control and Recovery System for this purpose.

Recommendation 17

The committee recommends that the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry work with state and territory government agencies to examine the port surround monitoring system trialled by Forestry Tasmania with a view to implementing similar systems at strategic port entry sites throughout Australia.

Recommendation 18

The committee recommends that the proposed National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee compile a list of sleeper pest species.

Recommendation 19

The committee recommends that the National Pest Animal Strategy, currently under development, include an eradication protocol to be used where required for early eradication of newly-established pest animal infestations.

6 Methods for controlling pest animals

Recommendation 20

The committee recommends that the proposed National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee work with state and territory governments to ensure that effective measures are available to control species classified as ‘vulnerable’ or ‘threatened’ where they constitute pests.

Recommendation 21

The committee recommends that the Australian Government, through the Coalition of Australian Governments, encourage states and territories to amend legislation and to find solutions for insurance problems experienced by hunting and shooting organisations where legislation and insurance problems preclude the organisations from assisting landholders with pest control activities.

Recommendation 22

The committee recommends that the Australian Government:

Recommendation 23

The committee recommends that the Australasian Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre:

Recommendation 24

The committee recommends that the proposed National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee:

Recommendation 25

The committee recommends that the proposed National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee ensure that best practice is always followed in relation to the use of trapping to ensure that it is conducted as humanely as possible.

Recommendation 26

The committee recommends that the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry coordinate with state and territory governments to provide dollar for dollar funding to a special fund to be administered by the proposed National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee, to be used solely for the purposes of:

Recommendation 27

The committee recommends that the proposed National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee work with government representatives to agree on appropriate guidelines for the construction and maintenance of exclusion fencing and remove regulatory impediments to land clearing required specifically for fencing for the purposes of pest animal control.

Recommendation 28

The committee recommends that local governments and declared animal groups in areas requiring pest exclusion or barrier fencing upgrades or construction apply for funding under the Australian Government’s Regional Partnerships Program.

Recommendation 29

The committee recommends that the Australian Government ensure that available tax concessions for landcare operations apply to pastoralists who contribute funds for pest animal exclusion fences.

Recommendation 30

The committee recommends that the Australian Government provide favourable taxation treatment to fruit farmers purchasing netting to exclude grey-headed flying foxes.

Recommendation 31

The committee recommends that the proposed National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee encourage the representative from Western Australia to arrange documentation of the Judas donkey program, so that the program can be considered for implementation with other animals, such as camels, in other states and territories.

Recommendation 32

The committee recommends that the Australasian Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre:

Recommendation 33

The committee recommends that the proposed National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee investigate how pest animal control programs can be monitored for effectiveness, in particular by the development of standard protocols for estimating pest animal population reduction and overall benefit.

Recommendation 34

The committee recommends that the National Pest Animal Strategy, currently under development, address the issue of appropriate allocation of funding responsibility amongst stakeholders.

Recommendation 35

The committee recommends that the Australian Government strongly urge state and territory governments to substantially increase funding for pest animal control, in addition to providing funding for the employment of doggers and pest animal controllers, and that this funding be directed towards on-ground control operations.

Recommendation 36

The committee recommends that the proposed National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee liaise with state and territory representatives to determine how joint community and government-funded schemes can be utilised to facilitate pest animal control.

Recommendation 37

The committee recommends that state and territory representatives of the proposed National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee provide annual reports to the Committee indicating their state or territory’s level and breakdown of funding for pest animal issues.

Recommendation 38

The committee recommends that, in addition to providing funding for the employment of doggers and pest animal controllers, the Australian Government make a significant investment towards on-ground control of wild dogs, feral pigs, rabbits and foxes, to be directed at local, regional and community groups responsible for pest animal control on the basis of established need.

7 Control across tenures

Recommendation 39

The committee recommends that the Australian Government:

Recommendation 40

The committee recommends that the proposed National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee:

8 Pests as resources

Recommendation 41

The committee recommends that the Australian Government encourage state and territory governments to remove existing impediments to the commercial utilisation of native pest species, whether those impediments be economic, legal or administrative.

Recommendation 42

The committee recommends that the proposed National Pest Animals and Weeds Committee:

9 Research and development

Recommendation 43

The committee recommends that the Australian Government:

Recommendation 44

The committee recommends that the Australian Government Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry:

Recommendation 45

The committee recommends that the Australasian Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre:

Recommendation 46

The committee recommends that the Australian Government:

10 Community education and awareness about pest animals

Recommendation 47

The committee recommends that the proposed National Pest Animals Advisory Committee:

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