The McGowan Government will provide just over $1 million to five rangelands Recognised Biosecurity Groups (RBGs) to fill a funding shortfall and ensure their critical work can continue this year.
The five RBGs had determined a program of works to be supported by funds raised through a declared pest rate and matched by the State Government for the current financial year.
The declared pest rate is based on unimproved land value linked to pastoral lease rents, however, a substantial number of pastoralists objected to an increase in their lease rate – objections which the Valuer-General upheld.
This reduced the anticipated declared pest rate funds raised from industry, leaving a funding shortfall for important biosecurity works undertaken by the RBGs.
The McGowan Government has agreed to provide a one-off ex-gratia payment of $1,090,000 to fill this shortfall.
The State Government is currently undertaking a review of the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 (BAM Act), which will include examining the operation of the declared pest rate system.
As stated by Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan:
“Recognised Biosecurity Groups play an absolutely essential role in keeping feral animals and pest plants under control across our State.
“While the system is based on a 50-50 split of funding between the State Government and the landholders, the decision of some pastoralists to appeal their rental rates meant the operations of the RBGs in the coming year was at risk without additional government funding.
“This special payment will mean the government contribution remains unaltered, even though it has not been matched by industry.
“It is important that we do not see a repeat of this situation in future years – an issue which will be considered as part of the BAM Act review.”