Noxious Weeds Amendment Bill
NOXIOUS WEEDS AMENDMENT BILL
Consideration of the Legislative Council’s amendments.
Schedule of amendments referred to in message
of 11 September 1996
No. 1 Page 4, Schedule 1, line 1. Omit "A copy". Insert instead "Following inspection of the machine by an inspector, a copy".
No. 2 Page 4, Schedule 1, line 6. Omit "may refuse". Insert instead "is not".
No. 3 Page 4, Schedule 1, lines 8 and 9. Omit "is not to be moved without the approval of the inspector". Insert instead "must not be permitted entry into New South Wales".
No. 4 Page 4, Schedule 1, line 27. Omit "may". Insert instead "is required".
No. 5 Page 4, Schedule 1, line 28. Omit "inspect an". Insert instead "to inspect any".
No. 6 Page 4, Schedule 1, line 31. Omit "stop and inspect an". Insert instead "to stop and inspect any".
Mr AMERY (Mount Druitt - Minister for Agriculture) [7.51 p.m.]: I move:
No. 7 Page 4, Schedule 1, line 35. Insert "to" before "require".
I foreshadow that I will move further amendments to the bill. This bill was introduced into and passed by this House in 1996. The bill was amended in the other place. The amendments are before this Committee for consideration. The Government proposes that this House resolve to disagree with those amendments and accept alternative amendments having a similar effect. I remind the Committee that the object of the bill was to reduce the risk of noxious weeds being introduced and establishing in new areas of New South Wales. A major motivation for these amendments was to strengthen the procedures to stop parthenium weed establishing in New South Wales. The main purpose of the changes to the bill made in the other place was to make inspection of declared agricultural machines mandatory at the New South Wales-Queensland border.
A second change was to require that a machine that had not been cleaned or inspected as required could not enter New South Wales. My department had a number of concerns about these changes. Before making a decision on the issues raised by the amendments, I asked my departmental officers to carry out a detailed pest risk analysis to identify and quantify the various ways that parthenium weed could enter New South Wales. While this has resulted in some delay in bringing the amendments back for consideration before this Committee the issues raised were important and all the ramifications of the changes needed to be considered. The pest risk analysis made use of records of all outbreaks in New South Wales since the first occurrence in 1982.
Extensive consultations were also held with authorities in Queensland. This analysis showed that rates of incursions of parthenium weed into New South Wales have been slowly declining since the mid 1980s. A component of this decline is due to the drought in Queensland, but there is also strong evidence that this is due to the effectiveness of the New South Wales program. The majority of outbreaks in recent years have been single or a few plants along major roads in the north-west of the State. This result is a credit to noxious weed officers employed by councils in the north-west. Due to their vigilance, most parthenium weed plants are found in the first season, before they have had a chance to set seed. The analysis concluded that the risk of parthenium weed establishing on properties was greatest from grain harvesters and associated machinery and that there was no strong case for declaring other classes of machinery - although this is an issue that will be subject to ongoing review.
The pest risk analysis has been discussed with major stakeholders, and based on those discussions I am prepared to accept the continuation of mandatory inspections for grain harvesters and associated equipment. However, I am proposing alternative amendments to overcome some potential legal difficulties. The structure of the section has also been altered to make it easier to understand. The Government does not accept the amendment to prevent agricultural machines that have not been cleaned or inspected as required from entering New South Wales. There is a legal problem with this proposal in that the machines will already be in New South Wales when they are presented to the border inspector. In addition, it is not desirable to require agricultural machines that have not been cleaned to
return to Queensland. It is preferable that the border inspector retains control over a dirty machine. If it is sent back to Queensland the operator could stop just over the border and clean it out, creating problems adjacent to New South Wales on land over which we have no jurisdiction.
These proposed amendments allow the inspector to direct where the machine must be taken and what action needs to be carried out. This is preferable to sending them back to Queensland where inspectors have no control. The proposal also provides a sensible procedure for inspecting headers that are not able to be unloaded for inspection at the border, such as machines that have been wrecked or have mechanical problems. It allows them to be directed to a location where they can be safely unloaded and subsequently inspected. There have been a number of significant improvements over the past year in the fight to keep New South Wales parthenium weed free. They are as follows:
That the Committee disagree to the Legislative Council’s amendments.
Inspection procedures at the NSW-Queensland border have been formalised, following input from major stakeholders such as the New South Wales Farmers Association and the Australian Grain Harvesters Association. This will improve the consistency of inspections.
New technology has been introduced for inspecting harvesters. Fibrescopes have been located at the main crossing stations which enable inspectors to see into the various nooks and crannies of these complex machines.
The parthenium weed awareness campaign has been expanded and now includes television and radio advertisements before harvest, to make farmers and header operators aware of the risks and their responsibilities. A series of television advertisements run early in the year encouraged the general community to report potential outbreaks.
A parthenium weed hotline has been established to provide a central contact point for all agencies and councils.
Closer collaboration has been established with Queensland Department of Natural Resources to improve coordination so that our requirements for harvesters to be cleaned do not result in infestations on the Queensland side of the border.
Overall the system has so far achieved the objective of stopping parthenium weed establishing in New South Wales - but there is always room for improvement, and my department, in cooperation with other interested parties, will continue to seek ways of further reducing the risk. The amendments from the Legislative Council will be amended by the Government’s amendments which, in effect, retain the principle of the upper House’s amendments but have been tidied up to correct any legal problems that may have occurred in the drafting stages. I understand that the Opposition will support the Government’s amendments.
Mr SLACK-SMITH (Barwon) [7.57 p.m.]: Having considered the Government’s explanation, the Opposition supports the motion. Originally it was unclear to the Opposition where the machines were to be inspected. The Opposition agrees that the machines are to be inspected in New South Wales, once across the border, at the border checking station and not in Queensland. The original problem related to the wording of the clause. The Opposition is now satisfied that the machines will be inspected in New South Wales and supports the motion.
Motion agreed to.
Legislative Council’s amendments Nos 1 to 7 disagreed to.
Further amendments by Mr Amery agreed to:
New South Wales Agriculture also carries out random checks on back roads to discourage harvesters from crossing the border illegally.
No. 1 Page 3, Schedule 1 (proposed section 31(3)(a)), lines 23-27. Omit all words on those lines. Insert instead:
(a) The Minister is to make arrangements for inspectors to set up places at or near the border of New South Wales and Queensland at which machines may be produced for inspection (being places set up on a regular basis or by special arrangement with a person bringing a machine into New South Wales). The machine is to be brought into New South Wales at that place and produced to an inspector without delay.
No. 2 Page 4, Schedule 1 (proposed section 31(3)(c) and (d)), lines 1-11. Omit all words on those lines. Insert instead:
(c) An inspector at that place must inspect the machine.
(d) Following that inspection, the inspector is to sign a copy of the declaration and return it to the person in charge of the machine, unless the inspector is not satisfied that the machine has been cleaned as required by the regulations.
(e) If the inspector is not satisfied that the machine has been cleaned as required by the regulations, the machine is not to be moved anywhere in New South Wales, without the approval of an inspector, until the inspector is so satisfied and has signed a copy of a declaration (referred to in paragraph (b)) lodged with the inspector. Until the inspector is so satisfied, the inspector may only approve of the movement of the machine to an appropriate place to be cleaned or for its return to Queensland.
Resolution reported from Committee and report adopted.
Message sent to the Legislative Council advising it of the resolution.
No. 3 Page 4, Schedule 1 (proposed section 31(6)(a)), lines 28-30. Omit all words on those lines.