The Biosecurity Bill 2014 which is awaiting reading before the Upper House, gives effect to the whole of government NSW Biosecurity Strategy and introduces major reform to manage pests, diseases, weeds and contaminants and minimise biodiversity threats to NSW.
A “note” in the Bill explains that “the scheme provided for in this Act is being implemented in a 2 stage process. The first stage is the enactment of this Act. The second stage is the repeal or partial repeal of various Acts that deal with the same subject-matter…” The Noxious Weeds Act 1993 (Noxious Weeds Act) is proposed to be repealed.
Under the proposed new legislation, Local Control Authorities (LCAs) retain their current powers. However, the DPI’s website explains that:
“The Biosecurity Bill will also provide the legislative scope for LCAs officers to control pest animal species and nuisance bees if the relevant LCA so desires. For example, a LCA may wish to manage pest animal species such as Indian myna birds and cane toads, alone or in partnership with another organisation such as LLS. At present, the LCAs are only authorised to undertake activities in relation to the control of noxious weeds, but with the proposal for broader powers available under the Biosecurity Bill this limitation will be removed. The new legislation will enable LCA officers to assist during a biosecurity emergency or when a biosecurity event occurs, including those not related to weeds or pest animals. LCAs will be able to recover the cost of their participation in biosecurity emergency responses in accordance with national cost sharing arrangements.”
Under the current Noxious Weeds Act, local (or county) councils (as a LCA) have power to appoint “Inspectors”. Under the new legislation, LCAs will have power to appoint an “Authorised Officers”.
These legislative reforms (s366) also appear to remove the anomaly in the Noxious Weeds Act which currently requires local councils wishing to delegate their powers to do so under the Noxious Weeds Act and not under section 377 of the Local Government Act 1993.
The Local Government Legal’s Delegations Database will be amended to reflect the new functions of LCAs if and when the Biosecurity Bill is made.
Note: This information is not to be relied upon as legal advice.