The NSW Biosecurity Bill, introduced into Parliament this week, is missing important accountability measures agreed by the NSW Government when the Bill was first introduced last year.
“We were surprised that changes agreed between environment groups and NSW Farmers last year have now been left out,” said Andrew Cox, Invasive Species Council CEO.
“Instead of adding the agreed measures to the Biosecurity Bill this year, they’ve simply reintroduced the same bill as before, except for a few technical edits.”
The agreed changes would have established a statutory advisory committee headed by an independent chair, required a state of biosecurity report every four years, added the precautionary principle and committed to greater community involvement and transparency.
However Parliament ran out of time to pass the changes before it closed at the end of the year.
In a positive development, the NSW Government recently agreed to form a non-statutory biosecurity advisory committee with an independent chair. It will be a far weaker version of the statutory committee agreed to by government last year. Missing from the committee are broad oversight powers and an audit function.
“The Natural Resources Commission, in its 2014 review of NSW weed management, found ‘ineffective implementation, enforcement and accountability’ and recommended the formation of a powerful state committee led by an independent chair appointed by the Governor.
“The proposed changes could make NSW’s biosecurity system the envy of all the other states,” concluded Mr Cox.
The NSW Biosecurity Bill was introduced into the NSW Upper House on Wednesday 12 August by Primary Industries Minster, Niall Blair. The Bill will be debated during the last week of August.
Andrew Cox on 0438 588 040