NSW Government Baulks at Needed Weed Reform

Media Release |

The NSW Government has failed to adopt a widely supported weed reform package proposed by NSW’s independent commission, guaranteeing the state’s weed problems will continue to grow, environmental groups said today.

Today, the NSW Government released its response to the NSW Natural Resources Commission weed review and a set of eight recommendations. Only five of the eight recommendations were supported by the government.

“Weeds cost the environment dearly as they take over from native species and transform ecosystems, while costing agriculture at least $1.8 billion each year”, said Andrew Cox, CEO of the Invasive Species Council.

“Weed problems are worsening in NSW with on average 18 new weeds establishing each year.

“The NSW Government is squandering a major reform opportunity, using the furphy of ‘red tape’ and apparent cost savings to consign farms and conservation areas to more costly weed problems in future.

“The NSW government rejected the most important change to stop the rate of new weeds: preventing the sale of weedy plants using a ‘permitted list’ approach”, said Kate Smolski, CEO of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.

“At present only the worst weeds are banned from sale, leaving many dangerous weeds that are still to invade the environment, waterways and agricultural land being promoted and planted in gardens.

“Unusually, all major interest groups fully supported the Natural Resources Commission recommendations, including NSW Farmers, Local Government Association, the nursery industry association and environmental groups,” said Ms Smolski.

“Other recommendations rejected by the government were the creation of a statutory state weeds committee with an independent chair, regulation of fodder providers and property weed status certificates,” said Kevin Evans, CEO of the National Parks Association of NSW.

“Government is yet to support or rule out a proposed high-risk incursion fund or explain how it will reverse declining research capacity and the loss of taxonomists.

“Recommendations supported include a ‘nil-tenure’ approach with private and public land managers sharing the same weed control obligations, a ‘general biosecurity obligation’, non-statutory statewide and regional weed committees, improved transparency and data management standards.

“Environment groups call on all political parties to support closing off pathways for new weeds and preventing the sale of weedy plants. It is a popular, cost-saving reform that makes environmental, economic and social sense,” concluded Mr Evans.

More info

For comment

Andrew Cox , Invasive Species Council: 0438 588 040
Kevin Evans, National Parks Association of NSW: 0457 797 977
James Tremain, Nature Conservation Council of NSW: 0419 272 254

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