Convention for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water &
Sediments which was adopted by consensus at the Diplomatic Conference at
the IMO in London in February 2004.
The need for action to be taken to address marine pests
was highlighted by Dr Bax,
Scientist, CSIRO Marine Research, who told the Committee that:
Developing on this point, Dr
Bax told the Committee that:
The management of marine pests has the opportunity to provide
major environmental benefits to both industry and other areas. An interesting
thing in the marine environment is that a lot of effort now is being put in to
establishing marine protected areas around the country as a way of protecting
biodiversity. But if those marine protected areas get invaded by marine pests,
as some of them are already, then that significantly reduces their
environmental value. So marine pests need to be one of the suite of management
actions which occur in the marine environment.
The Committee hopes that national strategy will
recognise this issue and support research to help preserve and protect marine
biodiversity from invasive species.
my perspective as a scientist is that it took us seven years to
produce the science which went into the ballast water risk assessment for the
ballast water management plan introduced in July 2001. It is going to take us
equally long to develop management and control techniques for existing species,
and we really need to start now if we want to have a response in the next 10
years or so.
Coordinating Committee for Introduced Marine Pest
The CCIMPE was established in 2000 as an interim
mechanism pending the development of a comprehensive national system for the
Prevention and Management of Introduced Marine Pest Incursions. CCIMPE consists
of relevant agencies of the Australian Government, including CSIRO, and the
States and Northern Territory.
CCIMPE oversees a national emergency response network
for marine pests and considers State and Northern
Territory requests for access to a national
contingency cost-sharing arrangement. Up to $5 million may be made available to
combat an introduced marine pest outbreak of major concern, that meets certain
criteria, including being amenable to eradication.
Scientist, CSIRO Marine Research, advised the CCIMPE has responded to six
invasions since 2001. These include Caribbean tube worm in Cairns, caulerpa
taxafolia in New South Wales and South Australia and the Northern Pacific Sea
Star when it reached Inverloch in Victoria.
An example of the emergency cost sharing arrangement being
accessed is when an infestation of Asian Green Mussels (Perna viridis) were identified during cleaning of a seized foreign
vessel in Trinity Inlet, Cairns. CCIMPE
determined that the first, investigatory, stage of an emergency response was
appropriate. This was implemented by the Queensland Government, with the
support of $50,000 from the contingency cost sharing arrangement, and involved
the inspection of high-risk vessels, and the removal of any Asian Green Mussels
found, as well as ongoing monitoring. A total of 16 mussels were found during
March - June 2002, and a further 21 mussels have been subsequently discovered.
Currently there are no management committees for some
species, such as invertebrates or exotic pest fish. The Vertebrate Pests
Committee is currently undergoing a review and is considering the inclusion of
invasive freshwater fish species as part of their terms of reference.
This raises the issue of whether there would be more benefit to the
protection of biodiversity if an Exotic Fish Committee was established that
looked at fresh water and marine fish, and was not limited to vertebrates.
In light of the eradication campaigns for the yellow
crazy ants on Christmas Island and the Red Imported Fire
Ants in Brisbane,
another issue that the Committee considers deserves consideration is that of
how best to address invertebrate pests.
Natural Heritage Trust
The Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) was established in
1997 with a funding budget of $1.249 billion. It was to operate from the
1996/97 to the 2001/02 financial year. The main source of funds was from
proceeds from the first partial privatisation of Telstra.
In the 2001 Federal Budget the Government announced an
additional $1 billion for the NHT, extending the funding for an additional 5
years, to 2006/07. Of this $1 billion, the Government expects to spend at least
$350 million on measures to improve Australia's
The Natural Heritage Ministerial Board has approved
funding of $4 million per annum for strategic weed management projects for
2004-05 and 2005-06. The Committee
appreciates that the Natural Heritage Ministerial Board has acknowledged the
problem of weeds but it notes that $4 million per annum for strategic weed
management projects pales in comparison the $4 billion per annum that weeds
cost the Australian people.
The NHT website advises:
Under the second phase of the NHT, known as NHT2, grant
arrangements have changed. The 'Framework for the implementation of the Natural
Heritage Trust extension' provides a strategic basis for investment against the
NHT's objectives at national, regional and local levels and includes the basis
for matching contributions from the states and territories.
There has been a fundamental shift in
the Trust towards a more targeted approach to
environmental and natural resource management in Australia. The Trust will
deliver important resource condition outcomes including improved water quality,
less erosion, improved estuarine health, improved vegetation management and
improved soil condition.
NHT2 has three overarching objectives. They are:
Sustainable use of Natural Resources; and
NHT programs have been consolidated from twenty-three
programs under NHT1 to four programs under NHT2.
Community Capacity Building and Institutional
Program will invest in activities that contribute to reversing land
degredation and promoting sustainable agriculture.
Program will invest in activities that contribute to conserving and
restoring habitat for the native flora and fauna which underpin the health of
Program will invest in activities that contribute to improved water quality
and environmental conditions in river systems and wetlands.
Program will invest in activities that contribute to protecting coastal
catchments, ecosystems and the marine environment.
Under NHT2 funds will be delivered at three levels:
Regional investments; and
National investments will cover national priorities,
addressing activities that have a national or broad-scale, rather than a
regional or local outcome. This will include Commonwealth only activities,
state-wide activities and those that cross State, Territory and regional
boundaries. It also addresses matters of direct Commonwealth jurisdiction, such
as those relating to Commonwealth waters. Funding for national delivery
components will generally be determined by the Commonwealth Government, without
calls for funding applications from the public. Proposals for statewide funding
will be made by the State and Commonwealth Governments.
A local action component.
Regional investments are the principal
delivery mechanism for NHT2. The model for regional investment under NHT2 is
based on that used for the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality.
Where appropriate the model developed for the National Action Plan for Salinity
and Water Quality should be followed.
Agreement between the Commonwealth and State/Territory
Governments is to be reached in relation to activities that are given funding
at the regional level. Contributions from the Commonwealth Government are to be
matched with cash or in-kind contributions from State or Territories.
model, investment is made on the basis of a regional natural resource
management plan, incorporating the major natural resource management issues in
The Committee is encouraged that the national
competitive component and the regional competitive component recognise the fact
that some natural resource issues are better addressed on a larger scale,
rather than on a single region approach and allow for cross-regional collaboration.
Each of these components allows for cross-regional projects and also multiyear
The move to provide support for multi-year projects is
also welcomed by the Committee as it heard considerable evidence regarding the
constraints of annual funding cycles.
At the local level community groups will be able to
apply for individual grants through the Commonwealth Government Envirofund.
These grants provide up to $30,000 to address local natural resource management
issues. It is aimed at groups that have had little or no previous engagement
with the NHT and aims to assist groups to undertake:
small on-ground projects tackling local
projects in areas where regional plans are not
yet well developed; and
important local projects.
As will be discussed in Chapter 4, evidence presented
to the Committee indicated that there were a number of concerns regarding the
Natural Resource Management approach to funding and short funding cycles.
Natural Resource Management - the local approach to funding
The 'Framework for the Extension of the Natural
Heritage Trust' states that one of the ten areas of activity that define the
scope of the NHT is:
It also states that:
preventing or controlling the
introduction and spread of feral animals, aquatic pests, weeds and other
biological threats to biodiversity;
As a consequence of these variations the NHT
acknowledges that each regional plan will not necessarily address all the ten
areas of activity of the NHT and that equal emphasis may not be applied to all
components of a single area of activity within a regional plan.
resource management priorities will vary between regions and between
States/Territories, as will the extent to which the areas of activity
identified for Trust investment are addressed in regional plans.
General Manager, Catchment and Regional Planning, Queensland Department of
Natural Resources, Mines and Energy told the Committee of the different funding
structure under NHT2.
General Manager, Landcare and Sustainable Industries, Department of
Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry told the Committee that:
under NHT2 are very different from under NHT1. The majority of the funds go to
regional bodies. For example, in Queensland we are establishing 15 regional groups throughout the state
to deal with programs such as NAP and NHT. The majority of the NHT funding goes
directly through those bodies to address issues of priority that are identified
in NRM plans, which those groups have developed.
The Committee heard evidence critical of the regional
focus of the Commonwealth Governments' move to providing funding under the NHT
to NRM bodies, which would then have responsibility for allocating the monies
to projects they identify as priorities. A number of witnesses expressed
concern that invasive species will not be addressed unless they are given
priority over competing issues by the NRM bodies.
investment under the Natural Heritage Trust is to address regional priorities
identified in accredited regional natural resource management plans and
investment strategies. Weed management may be funded through the trust and it
is possible to obtain three-year funding for such priority projects.
While discussing this arrangement Dr
McFadyen, CEO, CRC for Australian Weed
Management told the Committee that:
A number of witnesses advised that the impact of the
regional focus was that funds were allocated to issues that are of priority in
the local area. The Committee heard that this may occur at the expense of
issues such as sleeper weeds which may have a significantly greater impact on
the economy and environment than issues identified by the NRM body but which
may not be seen as a priority issue by the local NRM body and therefore not
targeted for action.
problem with the regional bodies is that the funds are given for all natural
resource management. So every weed control or invasive species project is
competing with water resources and quality problems, riparian issues and
erosion and all sorts of other things. Again, there is very often a failure to
take a strategic view, because they look at the regional issues.
The lack of a strategic view can mean that an issue
which could have been addressed, in its initial stage, with a small outlay of
money may end up costing significantly more in a few years time when it comes
to the attention of the NRM body. An example of this is sleeper weeds which
often do not come to the attention of land owners until they have become a
significant weed issue. Developing on this point Dr
McFadyen, CEO, CRC for Australian Weed
Management told the Committee that:
Councillor, Invasive Species Council, told the Committee that the focus of
with that [NHT funding] is that if you are a regional group such as, let us
say, the Fitzroy Basin or Burnett-Mary, your weed issues are the things that are
currently a serious problem and that is what you apply for money for. Something
that you are told will be a serious problem in 40 years time, if you do not do
anything now, does not come up.
went on to say:
tends to be on things that are already a problem-the things that
are almost always, therefore, not eradicable-rather than dealing with something
like cecropia, which is not yet a problem for any land-holder; it is not a
problem for anyone right now, so there is no reason that any individual or any
Landcare group would think to apply for it, unless they were particularly
sophisticated in seeing the future. 
In response to the issue of whether NRM bodies will
identify new incursions of invasive species as priority issues in their area Mr
Wonder, Deputy Secretary, Department of
Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, said:
NRM committees are usually focused on dealing with existing
uneradicable pests, not sleepers or ones just starting off their life cycle.
The Committee expresses its concern over Mr
Wonder's final sentence:
If people on
the ground, familiar with their regional area, are talking to one another and
conscious of the issues that they feel they need to address either now or into
the future, they have every opportunity to make a judgement about what is there
now, what might be there in the future, what might be threatening and the like.
They can make all of those judgements. It is not confined to things reaching a
particular size before they are allowed to put them forward in regional plan,
so I do not agree with that characterisation. These issues can be addressed in
advance if they feel that they are of such significance that they want to do
something about them.
The places the onus on the NRM body having sufficient
knowledge to be aware of the future impact of newly establishing or sleeper
invasive species and to be prepared to address the issue in its early stages.
The Committee is concerned that this level of knowledge and foresight may not
be present in all NRM bodies, or may not be the majority voice on the body and
therefore the issue will not be adequately resourced.
can be addressed in advance if they feel that they are of such significance
that they want to do something about them.
The Committee heard that the regional focus of NHT2 is
about empowering NRM bodies to address issues that they identify as priorities.
Deputy Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, told the
The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ)
noted that the current funding arrangements do not allow for issues not
identified as priority issues by NRM bodies to be addressed. The LGAQ noted
to go to
your question of where do invasive species fit vis-a-vis the other issues
facing them, yes, it would be fair to say they [NRM bodies] have to make
realistic judgements about what are the issues that they can best address and
take forward their natural resource management and environment aspirations. I
agree that is a very relevant consideration and that we have to make some
judgements about where invasive species fit vis-a-vis other matters. Sometimes
I would expect it to be much higher on the list. I think it will vary,
depending on the regional circumstances and the significance of weeds vis-a-vis
other issues they are addressing in that particular region.
Evidence overwhelming supports the argument that one of
the most cost-effective methods of managing the issue is to address problem
species before they have become widely established. The Committee expresses
concern that funding arrangements under NHT2 are contrary to this.
additional resources were provided it would enable those additional species to
be controlled. For instance, with hymenachne it might allow control in those
areas where it is not seen as a specific problem. I know from a local
government point of view that they [local government] have limited resources
and they make decisions as to where they are going to best spend those limited
resources for that year and the next few years, and other things do not get
addressed as part of that.
The Committee expresses concern that the funding
arrangements for NHT2 may mean that invasive species become further established
as, unless they are identified as priority issues by a NRM, they will not
receive adequate funding to enable them to be addressed.
Local response to national issues
Funding through the National Weeds Program, that was
established under the first phase of the NHT, contributed to the development
and implementation of national strategies for the 20 individual Weeds of
National Significance. A number of witnesses advised that this program had been
effective at strategically addressing weed issues. Mr Walton, Senior Policy
Officer, Ecology, Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Queensland
Government, advised that the program:
Funding for the management of weeds of national
significance is not guaranteed under NHT2, to receive funding the issue needs
to be a priority for the NRM body. Dr Dickson,
Assistant Secretary, Natural Resource Management Policy Branch, Department of
Environment and Heritage advised that:
effectively rolling up. I believe there is an extension of a year for
coordinators -it is obviously really important to have a coordinator for the
species. The projects themselves will now be funded under NHT2 at a regional
Concern was expressed by a number of witnesses that
under NHT2 funding for national weeds, such as hymenachne, is required to be sought
through NRMs for local response. The Committee heard from Mr
Low, Councillor, Invasive Species Council,
who argued that responding locally to national pest issues is not appropriate.
He told the Committee that:
Once there is a regional plan
accredited and a regional investment strategy agreed, with various components
which could include managing or supporting control of weeds of national
The Committee heard evidence that the ability of a
number of NRMs to reach agreement to adequately fund weeds of national
significance in an area is difficult to achieve. The LGAQ expressed concern
over the alignment of funding to NRM groups and NRMs determining funding
priorities in relation to weeds, especially the management of weeds of national
significance. It advised that a return to the older model of funding for weeds
of national significance may result in more favourable outcomes. Mr
Petrire, Natural Resource Management Project
Coordinator, LGAQ told the Committee that:
One of the problems that have been
identified for me through the hymenachne management group is that they have
been told that to get funding to control hymenachne they are supposed to go
through the NRMs, the regional groups. This is not an appropriate process for a
national weed. It depends on those groups deciding that that particular weed is
a priority for them, and you are going to get an uneven approach. This is not
consistent. If you are saying that this is a national weed, it needs a national
response; but then you decentralise the funding.
It was quite evident to me that the
process of funding, which has now been realigned to the NRM groups, is of
concern for local governments, in that getting all the regional bodies to
understand the priority of weeds of national significance is going to take a
lot of resources. To achieve some adequate funding across a number of regional
bodies to actually deal with the problem is obviously going to be a major
Further developing on the issue of weed management Mr
Petrie told the Committee that:
It would probably be far more favourable if it went back to the
older model whereby applicants received funding directly from the Commonwealth
to manage weeds of national significance. There are concerns about how the
process has been devolved to those regional bodies and about the lack of real
support for those bodies to understand that these are high priorities, because
some of them have not even reflected weeds in the context of agricultural
importance. When you look at the NHT you see that weed management aligns to
environmentally significant areas only, so there are limitations on where that
can be impacted. Also, through the national action plan, where there is
substantially more money available to the NRM groups that qualify, weeds have
to relate primarily to water quality issues. It is difficult for applicants to
put in a project for funding that will target an invasive species that will
have an impact on environmentally significant areas.
Another issue that witnesses identified with the NRM
structure is that they reflect local concerns and as peoples' definitions of
what is a weed or pest animal is not universal the outcome is that there will
often be different responses to the same issue. Mr
Low highlighted this when he told the
issue is getting a model that effectively deals with infestation, and I do not
think the current proposal is going to support that.
Vice President, AgForce Cattle, AgForce Queensland,
provided support to the case against a regional funding focus when he told the
differing values, you would not expect all NRMs to treat hymenachne equally as
a weed; in fact, some of them are likely to refuse to take it seriously.
In response to claims that NRMs have broad strategic
focus and that their membership is local and may not have expertise, Mr Wonder,
Deputy Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, advised
Landcare groups obviously get funded
through the NHT and so on, but Landcare groups tend to look at their own
region. National Landcare probably look at the national situation, but I think
that generally the Landcare groups-and I established the Townsville-Thuringowa
Landcare group in 1990, so I have a bit of a background in what they look
at-really concentrate on what is happening in their area. With regard to what
is happening elsewhere, there is not a great deal of knowledge that passes on
from one Landcare group to another. ... I suppose with regional funding, too, it
depends on who has the best story or the best connection-
Director, Policy and Governance Section, Natural Resource Management Team,
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry explained the accreditation
process for NRM bodies.
In New South Wales you have catchment management boards and in Victoria you have catchment management authorities and the like. In
those two instances, they are legislative and are appointed people who look at
the welfare and issues facing a very considerable geographic region. I do not
think it is appropriate to describe them as ‘local’.
Under NHT2 NRMs allocate resources to priority areas
that they have identified, in their region. This is in conflict with the
overwhelming evidence that the spread of pest animals and weeds is often not
stopped by physical barriers and certainly not stopped by ephemeral borders
such as entering a new catchment management zone. A lack of agreement on pest
issues, across NRMs and more widely, can mean that pests may not be effectively
managed if they are being treated in one area but not in neighbouring catchment
zones. This can void the endeavours of NRMs that manage pests.
the regional NRM groups are asked to
identify the key priorities for natural resource management within their
regions, and they put those plans to the Australian and relevant state or
territory governments for a process that we call accreditation. On the basis of
those plans, the regions then put to us investment strategies with a three-year
time horizon to allow the funding of multiyear projects. Those investment plans
are reviewed annually so emerging or changing priorities can be reflected in
the investment decisions the governments make.
An example of the detrimental impact of lack of the coordination
in the management of invasive species was highlighted by Mr
Stewart, Vice President, AgForce Cattle,
AgForce Queensland. He told the
The establishment of NRMs and the focal role that they
play as the central decision maker on funding for pest and weed management has
led to the creation of a bureaucratic structure. The LGAQ told the Committee
that local governments' role in managing pest animals and weeds had not
changed, however, under the new NRM model local government must apply to the
NRM for funds to undertake tasks which are additional to core business. The
Committee heard that:
We have had a whole lot of land-holders
who have been doing work on feral pigs and the neighbour does not do it and,
therefore, in 12 months he is back just where he was before. That is why we need
a national, coordinated program.
Committee expresses concern regarding indications that traditional funding is
being reduced as a result of new funding being received through the NHT. State
Government expenditure for environmental matters has reduced as NHT funding has
increased. Mr Petrie,
Natural Resource Management Project Coordinator, Local Government Association
of Queensland told the Committee that:
if the money
goes to the bodies, it will still be local government that ends up doing the
work, but they will have to apply to the bodies to get the money to do the work.
seems to be common concern amongst local governments and other stakeholders
with the introduction of the regional NRM framework in Queensland.
Essentially, the state agencies’
support and extension services have diminished since the introduction of the
regional NRM bodies. An example would be that one body is now employing a soil
conservation officer, which was identified as a core service provided by a
state agency that no longer occurs. That seems to be a common theme of concern
throughout a lot of the regions in Queensland.
So I would say that there is some correlation there.
Length of the funding cycle
the first phase of the NHT funds were generally provided for a 12 month period.
If additional funds were required, to continue projects beyond one year, they
had to be reapplied for. The short-term nature of the grant cycle meant that
funds could not always be strategically applied. Evidence the Committee heard
supports the argument that the management of invasive species is a long-term
issue and the provision of funds on an annual basis is problematic.
Committee notes that this issue has been identified and addressed under NHT2 which
allows for more strategic work through changed funding arrangements that
accomodate for multiyear projects.
short-term nature of funding caused problems for a number of witnesses. Issues
identified as a result of this included a reduced ability to strategically plan
and higher staff turnover on research
Peacock, CEO, Pest Animal Control CRC told
the Committee that:
short-term nature of the grants also meant that organisations were required to
reapply for grants on an annual basis. A number of witnesses commented that
this was not an effective use of resources and resulted in a lower level of
return for money spent than if funding had been received in three-year blocks.
It is almost a study in worst practice
research funding. I have done 10 years of research management. No-one funds for
one year on long-term projects except EA. I do not have any other clients that
example of the detrimental impact of funding for a hymenachne eradication
campaign ending and continued funding not being received was provided by Mr
Petrie. He advised that the program was:
Morin, Senior Research
Scientist, CSIRO told the Committee that:
coming to the conclusion of that [2001/02] funding period. I
believe there were a number of local governments that applied for the control
of that particular species. A total of about $470,000 was committed to, off the
top of my head, three or four councils in Far North Queensland. The funding was
to enable those councils with limited resources to deal with that particular
species and focus on that eradication, which is what they intended to do. The interesting
process was that the funding ran out when those councils had actually come very
close to eradication, but, given the time frame to get additional funding for
the next round of NHT, with the whole regional planning and so on, as a
consequence they are actually back to where they started. So those resources
were totally wasted as a result. 
Peacock also advised the Committee of the
short turnaround time for applying for tenders.
To make a
proper plan of, say, delivery over three years would be so much more efficient
than every year having to rewrite the grant. What I find is that for the same
amount of money that we get over the three years we deliver much less because
it is so fragmented. For something like producing, let us say, a brochure,
because we have only one-year funding we are going to produce just what we need
for that year, but actually the year after we get more funding.
response to criticisms of the short-term nature of NHT funding, and its impact
on research, Dr Dickson
two tenders were let on Christmas Eve last year for a mid-January date for
feral goat research. You read that and think, ‘What are they thinking?’
Committee heard evidence from the Department of Environment and Heritage that most
of the NHT funds that have been provided to assist some of the major research
institutions, such as CSIRO, to undertake biological controls have been at the
applied end of the spectrum. Dr Dickson
told the Committee that:
In terms of the NHT funding of biological controls, the NHT is
not a research funding program.
there is scope for research organisations to apply for grants under the
National Competitive Component of NHT2, Mr
Murnane, reinforced the point that the NHT
is not a research funding program when he said:
[the] CSIRO estimate that it can be up to 10 years from the first
idea through to developing a final biological control. It is clearly a
long-term activity and it needs to be undertaken in a strategic way by research
institutions. The NHT has certainly provided some important assistance to that
work of the major research institutions, and also in state research as well, to
assist the promulgation of the biological controls and further testing at the
developing on the issue of research and development, Mr
Wonder noted that the Commonwealth has major
funding of research and development through the rural industries research and
development corporations. Many of which fund invasive species projects that are
conducted through the CSIRO or CRCs.
the Natural Heritage Trust is essentially a funding program for
on-ground environmental works rather than being specifically designed to
support research, but there is scope to support particular projects that may
have an applied result later on.
June 2004 the Commonwealth Government announced that ten environmental projects
would receive $5.6 million in funding over the next three years as part of the
National Competitive Component of NHT2. Funding was provided to multi-year
projects that were new, innovative or pilot activities with a national approach
to effectively improving natural resource management.
Committee is please to note that invasive species were recognised in the grants
cycle through the grant to the CRC for Australian Weed Management to build a
national, community-based model for preventing new weed incursions. They
received $138,000 over three years.
Committee heard that:
Committee expresses its hope that NHT2 will be successful in achieving these
goals and that it will make a positive contribution toward reducing the impact
of invasive species.
A lot of the national funding from the NHT on weeds and feral
animals, as well as on the research side, has gone into communication products
and improving the capacity of regional groups and other community groups to be
able to identify weeds or other invasive species. The key issue is the
complementarity between improving the national framework and the coordination
and improving the ownership and the focus at the regional level. It is not one
or the other; it is both of these things working together.