Pest and Weeds
Pests, diseases and contaminants are major risks to Queensland’s human health, social amenity, economy and environment. To address this, the Biosecurity Act 2014 designates the highest risks as restricted or prohibited matter and places obligations and conditions on their possession and management. To assist landholders, businesses, governments and the public in prioritising their pest plant and animals control obligations, the Isaac Regional Council has compiled the Isaac Region Biosecurity Plan 2020-2023.
The plants and animals that are listed in the Isaac Region Biosecurity Plan 2020-2023 were prioritised based on a risk based approach. Prohibited and restricted species designated under the Biosecurity Regulation 2016 and non-declared pest plants and animals considered of risk to the Isaac Region were assessed. These were then prioritised based on: Likelihood of establishment or spread, capacity to manage, current extent, and level of impact (environmental, social and agricultural).
The Isaac Region Biosecurity Plan 2020-2023 can be found here.
The General Biosecurity Obligation
All Queenslanders have a ‘general biosecurity obligation’ (GBO) under Queensland's Biosecurity Act 2014.
This means that everyone is responsible for managing biosecurity risks that are:
- under their control and
- that they know about or should reasonably be expected to know about.
Under the GBO, individuals and organisations whose activities pose a biosecurity risk must:
- take all reasonable and practical steps to prevent or minimise each biosecurity risk
- minimise the likelihood of causing a ‘biosecurity event ’, and limit the consequences if such an event is caused
- prevent or minimise the harmful effects a risk could have, and not do anything that might make any harmful effects worse.
You do not need to know about all biosecurity risks, but you are expected to know about those associated with your property, actions or land management activities.
A biosecurity risk exists when you deal with any pest, disease or contaminant, or with something that could carry one of these. This includes, for example,
- Moving diseased plant material, or associated soil or equipment, off the property.
- Growing a restricted or prohibited weed in a garden
- Introducing restricted or prohibited weeds or pest animals to areas where they are not present
A biosecurity event is caused by a pest, disease or contaminant that is, or is likely to become, a significant problem for human health, social amenity, the economy or the environment.
Invasive plants and animals, prohibited and restricted matter under the Act
Prohibited matter is a disease, exotic fish, insect pest, pest animal or a weed that is not found in Queensland. If it was to enter Queensland, it would seriously impact our health, way of life, the economy and the environment. Specific actions are required to be taken that limit the impact of this matter by reducing, controlling or containing it.
Your land management systems should have strategies in place to manage invasive plants and animals. You can refer to your local government area biosecurity plan as a starting point, but the basis of your strategy should be the prevention of an invasive pest escaping, being carried off, or introduced to your property.
If you find prohibited matter you must report it immediately to Biosecurity Queensland. You also have an obligation to report some restricted matter.
While prohibited biosecurity matter is illegal and not found in Queensland, restricted biosecurity matter may already be widely spread across Queensland but still needs to be contained.
There are seven restriction categories that can apply:
Category 1 This restricted matter must be reported to Biosecurity Queensland within 24 hours of you becoming aware of its presence.
Category 2 This restricted matter must also be reported to an authorised person within 24 hours of you becoming aware of its presence.
Category 3 You must not supply to another person or release into the environment this category of restricted matter.
Category 4 You must not move this restricted matter to ensure that it does not spread into other areas of the state.
Category 5 You must not possess or keep this restricted matter under your control. These pests have a high risk of negatively impacting on the environment.
Category 6 You must not feed this category of restricted matter. With the exception of the fish species, feeding for the purpose of preparing for or undertaking a control program is exempted.
Category 7 If you have these noxious fish in your possession you must kill the restricted matter and dispose of it by burying the whole carcass (no parts removed) in the ground above the high tide water mark or placing it in a waste disposal receptacle.
Multiple categories may apply to restricted matter, and in such cases, you would need to follow the requirements of all categories for these restricted matter listings. For example, the Act lists rabbits as category 3, 4, 5, and 6 restricted matter.
You may apply for a permit to deal with restricted matter for scientific research, commercial use or biological control purposes. Other legislation regulating the exhibited animal industry allows rabbits to be kept under permit for exhibition purposes including for use in magic acts and by zoos. You must comply with the requirements of each category for restricted matter unless otherwise authorised by a regulation or a permit.
Powers under the Act to deal with risk to your land
The Biosecurity Act provides a range of tools and powers that are tailored to the seriousness of the biosecurity threat. They will support responses to anything from emergency disease and pest eradication programs through to established pest and disease management.
Biosecurity emergency orders are primarily emergency actions to isolate and stop the spread of biosecurity matter, where possible eradicate it.
A movement and control order is used to assist with the management, reduction or eradication of biosecurity matter by prohibiting or restricting the movement of the biosecurity matter or a carrier.
Biosecurity programs are used in non-emergency situations to enable government to proactively identify and respond to a pest, disease or other biosecurity matter that poses a risk. For example, a surveillance program may be authorised to monitor compliance, or a prevention and control program may prevent the entry or establishment of biosecurity matter in an area.
Biosecurity zones can be established across whole or part of the state to eradicate, reduce or manage a plant or animal pest or disease, or contaminant.
Biosecurity orders may be used to enforce the general biosecurity obligation if a person has failed or may fail to meet their obligations.
How local government can act and assist
Local governments are responsible for ensuring management in their area of invasive plants and animals that are prohibited or restricted matter. You should notify your local council if you find Category 2 restricted matter, so they can investigate the report and respond as per their Biosecurity Plan if required. If you find prohibited matter or Category 1 restricted matter you must report it to Biosecurity Queensland.
Under the Act, a local government can appoint an authorised person, with powers of entry to check compliance with the Act or to act under a biosecurity program.
There are a range of options for local government to promote compliance with the new law. This ranges from awareness raising and providing education material, through to issuing specific biosecurity orders where a person has failed to discharge their general biosecurity obligation, on-the-spot fines, prosecutions and injunctions.
For more information please contact Council.