Member for Warren-Blackwood, Terry Redman said feedback from impacted landowners in his electorate regarding the recent pest levy imposed on them, has highlighted the need and importance of the Biosecurity and Agricultural Management Act (2007) review that is now overdue.
The Act allows the Minister for Agriculture to sign off on a levy, imposed on landowners, to support Recognised Biosecurity Groups (RBGs) manage pest incursions in a region.
The Minister of the day must have some certainty that community consultation has occurred, so there is no surprise when the bill arrives in the mail. However, a number of affected landowners, particularly in the Bridgetown Shire, have contacted Mr Redman’s office to express their shock at unexpectedly receiving a levy for pest control, and their annoyance at the Government’s heavy-handed demand for payment.
The decision by Minister MacTiernan to support a levy in a South West shire has put a spotlight on some equity issues that Mr Redman believes need to be addressed at a legislative level.
“Whilst I agree landowners have basic responsibilities in regard to pest management, I don’t see how a pensioner on a small town block in Bridgetown gets any benefit from contributing to a regional pest levy,” Mr Redman said.
“The current levy does not distinguish between farmers actively controlling pests, and absentee landowners who do nothing to control weeds such as Cotton Bush.
“I also think a larger contribution needs to come from State Government for those shires that have a significant proportion of State Forest and National Park, as these areas are a major source of foxes, rabbits and wild pigs.”
Mr Redman said it is his understanding the Act was due for review last year, however due to Departmental resourcing issues the review will not start until next year.
“I call on the Minister to stop imposing pest levies until the Biosecurity and Agricultural Management Act (2007) is reviewed and a better balance is found in managing the shared costs of biosecurity,” Mr Redman said.