The Weed Management Act 1999 and its Regulations

Introduction

The Weed Management Act 1999 was proclaimed on 1 September 2000. It is the principal legislation concerned with the management of declared weeds in Tasmania. Under the Act, the State Government may:

1. Prohibit the introduction of declared weeds into Tasmania.
2. Undertake the eradication of declared weed species.
3. Take action aimed at preventing the spread of declared weeds within Tasmania.
4. Require that action be taken against declared weed species where this is necessary to alleviate or prevent a particular problem.

Context of the Act

The Weed Management Act 1999 is an important component in the delivery of the State Weed Management Strategy (WeedPlan) recommendations for weed management legislation that underpin community weed management efforts.

Objectives of the Act

The objectives of the Act further the objectives of the Resource Management and Planning System (RMPS) of Tasmania. In particular the Act provides for the control and eradication of weeds having regard to the need to-

(a) minimise negative effects of weeds on the sustainability of Tasmania's productive capacity and natural ecosystems; and
(b) promote a strategic and sustainable approach to weed management; and
(c) encourage community involvement in weed management; and
(d) promote the sharing of responsibility for weed management between government, natural resource managers, the community and industry in Tasmania.

The Weed Management Regulations 2000

The Weed Management Regulations 2000 are the statutory rules that help underpin the Act itself. They detail requirements and measures referred to in the Act:

Tolerance Level Requirements

This rule sets out a schedule of tolerance levels for seeds of a range of weed species in feed grains imported into the State. It enables controls on the levels of these weed species to be set if they are declared and entry via feed grain needs to be restricted.

Livestock Importation Prescribed Measures

The regulations detail the measures that need to be taken in relation to the importation of livestock that may be carrying declared weeds. For example, the length of the animal's hairs in the coat is not to exceed 25mm. A permit for importation of livestock in this category can be obtained from Secretary, DPIPWE.

Infringement Notices and Penalties

This section lists the schedule of infringements and associated penalties under the Act. Penalties for offences range from $200 to $800. (Table 1).

Main Components of the Act

The Weed Management Act 1999 consists of 73 sections relating to the declaration, management, compliance requirements, and powers of inspectors appointed under the Act. The overview listed below focuses on four broad areas of the Act which people need to be aware of in order to understand the Act. This information in no way replaces the Act itself; this overview should be read in conjunction with the Weed Management Act 1999.

Declaration of Weeds

A core component of the legislation is the legal process of declaring a weed species under the Act. Once declared appropriate legal actions can then be taken against the plant species. The process of declaration under the Act is consultative and objective. It is based on the preparation of a Ministerial Statement of Intent (SoI) to declare a species. The SoI is a dossier on the plant species in question including the results of an objective Weed Risk Assessment (WRA), and information on economic, environmental, and social effects/impacts. The Minister's intent to declare the species is advertised and the SoI made available for public comment for a period of 30 days. Based on public comment and the results of the assessments that contributed to the SoI, the Minister may then declare the weed under the Act.

An emergency declaration mechanism exists so that a plant can be declared rapidly with an interim SoI. The Minister is then required to follow the formal process of 'intent to declare' within a set time period or the declaration lapses. It is also important to be aware that the same scientific/consultative process applies to remove a declaration.

Table 1: Schedule 2 under the Weed Management Regulations 2000 listing infringements and penalties.

See values of penalty units Penalty Units and Other Penalties Act 1987 for more details.

General description of offence and relevant section of Act
Penalty
Units
Failing to comply with requirement notice. 13(3)
8
Carrying out activity in infested area otherwise than permitted. 26(2)
8
Moving into or out of infested area. 27(1)
8
Moving into or out of protected area. 31 (2)
8
Carrying out activity in protected area otherwise than permitted. 31(3)
8
Failing to return ID card on ceasing to be an inspector. 35(2)
2
Failing to comply with notice to secure place. 41(2)
4
Failing to comply with requirement or prohibition. 44(2)
4
Interfering in process of seizure. 45(5)
8
Refusing to provide correct name and address. 47(2)
4
Failing to comply with directions. 48(3)
4
Obstructing inspector in conduct of duties. 50(1)
8
Failing to store anything contaminated with declared weed in approved facility. 51(1)
4
Removing anything contaminated with declared weed in approved facility. 51(2)
4
Selling or distributing declared weed or anything carrying declared weed. 56
4
Importing declared weed. 57(1)
4
Importing livestock carrying declared weed otherwise than permitted. 57(3)
4
Giving false and misleading statement. 58
8 (body corporate
4 (natural person)
Failing to comply with condition of exemption. 60(2)
4

The listing of currently declared weed species (Appendix A) is derived from the schedule of declared plants under the repealed Noxious Weeds Act 1964. Each of the currently declared species is currently being reviewed with weed management plans developed within 12 months where appropriate.


Weed Management Plans

Once declared the legislation requires that a Weed Management Plan (WMP) be prepared for the weed. A declaration cannot persist without such a plan. A period of 12 months is allowed to prepare such a plan. The development of this plan also requires a period of public consultation.

A WMP must include the name of the target weed, area of the State covered by the plan, distribution and extent of the weed, the reasons for declaring the weed and include restrictions and measures required to control, eradicate or restrict the spread of a weed. Restrictions on import, distribution and sale are also included.

Weed Management Plans are the product of extensive consultation and can be initiated by Government or other organisations including community groups. There is also a statutory requirement that the plans are reviewed at least every 5 years.


Inspectors

Inspectors are appointed by the Secretary, DPIPWE and can be employed in State/local government or other relevant organisations eg. community weed management groups. Appointments are made based on competency, and powers under the Act can be varied in their delegation by the Secretary eg. geographical restrictions. Appointed inspectors are required to undertake basic training relating to their responsibilities under the Act.


Compliance

The Act includes an infringement mechanism enabling inspectors to issue 'on-the-spot' fines for offences (Table 1). If an offence under the Act is detected an inspector can issue an infringement notice that describes the offence and its associated penalty. Fines are payable at any Service Tasmania Centre or Municipal offices Payment at a Municipal office is available only if the infringement notice was issued by a Municipal inspector.

In addition to an infringement notice being issued, a requirement notice can also be issued that details the measures to be undertaken by the offender to appropriately control the declared weed. Failure to comply with a requirement notice can result in prosecution in court with fines up to $10 000 able to be imposed. All measures specified by the weed inspector must be consistent with any WMP in place with respect to the declared weed.

The Act also provides for the authorisation by the Secretary for 'Works-in-default' should the landowner fail to comply with a requirement notice. Once works are authorised, the inspector can have the appropriate measures undertaken with costs for such work being billed to the Landowner.

More Information

Copies of the Weed Management Act 1999 and Weed Management Regulations 2000 are available at the Printing Authority of Tasmania's bookshop.

Electronic versions can also be accessed via the internet from the Tasmanian Legislation website: www.thelaw.tas.gov.au. Select "Search legislation database" and search for the Weed Management Act 1999 or Weed Management Regulations 2000. The advantage with electronic access such as this is that the resulting documentation is current as at the date of access.

Additional information on the Act can also be obtained from the Principal Weed Management Officer, DPIPWE (see below).

Declared Weeds

The Weeds Index page identifies 'declared weeds'.

The proposed restrictions or measures that may be required in respect of each of the declared weeds, which will be specified in management plans are as follows:

(a) A person must not import, or allow to be imported, into the State any declared weed except with the written approval of the Secretary.
(b) The tolerance level for declared weed seed in imported grain will be 0 seeds per kilogram.
(c) Landowners and managers must take all reasonable measures to control the impact and spread of a declared weed.
(d) A person must not propagate, trade or otherwise distribute declared weeds or anything carrying declared weeds except -
I. transport for purposes of disposal and
II. sale or transport for purposes other than disposal where authorised by the Secretary.
(e) A declared weed must be disposed of in a manner which will not result in further infestation.
(f) A declared weed must be eradicated from areas of the State where this is considered feasible.

Specific questions in relation to these declarations should be directed to the contact below:

Contact

Biosecurity Tasmania, Invasive Species Branch
Michael Askey-Doran
Phone: 03 6165 4408
Email: Michael.Askey-Doran@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

Back Home