Biosecurity Obligation and Land Management

On 1 July 2016 the new Biosecurity Act 2014 replaced the Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002.

The Biosecurity Act 2014 (PDF, 1.5MB).improves Queensland’s biosecurity preparedness and response capabilities. Weeds and pest animals have significant impacts on the environment, the economy and the community, including human health and recreation.

All information/fact sheets are available on the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries' website and the Queensland Government's Business and Industry Portal.

Further information is available from Mount Isa City Council's Rural Land Officer or by contacting Biosecurity Queensland (call 13 25 23 or visit the website here).

Outlined below are the responsibilities that you as a landholder are responsible for in relation to managing pest species with the new Biosecurity Act 2014.

The General Biosecurity Obligation relating to land management

You do not need to know about all biosecurity risks, but you are expected to know about those associated with your land management activities.

The General Biosecurity Obligation means you need to ensure your activities do not spread a pest, disease or contaminant. Your responsibilities are:

  • take all reasonable and practical steps to prevent or minimise each biosecurity risk;  
  • minimise the likelihood of the risk causing a biosecurity event and limit the consequences of such an event; and  
  • prevent or minimise the adverse effects the risk could have and refrain from doing anything that might exacerbate the adverse effects.  

A biosecurity risk exists when you deal with any pest, disease or contaminant, or with something that could carry one of these. This includes, for example, moving diseased plant material, or associated soil or equipment, off the property. A biosecurity event is caused by a pest, disease or contaminant  that is, or is likely to become, a significant problem for human health, social amenity, the economy or the environment.

Invasive plants and animals, prohibited and restricted matter under the Act

Prohibited matter and restricted matter replace the declared pest classes under the Biosecurity Act 2014. Your land management systems should have strategies in place to manage invasive plants and animals. You can refer to your local government area biosecurity plan as a starting point, but the basis of your strategy should be the prevention of an invasive pest escaping, being carried off, or introduced to your property.

Prohibited matter is a disease, exotic fish, insect pest, pest animal or a weed that is not found in Queensland. If it was to enter Queensland it would seriously impact our health, way of life, the economy and the environment.

Restricted matter can be animal disease, noxious fish, insects, pest animals or weeds that are found in Queensland. Specific actions are required to be taken that limit the impact of this matter by reducing, controlling or containing it.

If you find prohibited matter you must report it immediately to Biosecurity Queensland. You also have an obligation to report some restricted matter.

While prohibited biosecurity matter is illegal and not found in Queensland, restricted biosecurity matter may already be widely spread across Queensland but still needs to be contained.

There are seven restriction categories:

  • Category 1 includes insects such as red imported fire ants, electric ants and Asian honey bees, and certain animal and plant diseases, aquatic diseases and pathogens. This restricted matter must be reported to Biosecurity Queensland within 24 hours of you becoming aware of its presence.
  • Category 2 includes certain noxious fish, weeds and pest animals such as spotted gar, Miconia weed and red-eared slider turtle. This restricted matter must also be reported to an authorised person within 24 hours of you becoming aware of its presence.
  • Category 3 includes certain noxious fish, weeds, pest animals and insects. Examples of this category of restricted matter are gambusia, parthenium weed and foxes. You must not supply to another person or release into the environment this category of restricted matter.
  • Category 4 includes specific noxious fish, weeds and pest animals such as the giant cichlid, bitou bush and feral pig. You must not move this restricted matter to ensure that it does not spread into other areas of the state.
  • Category 5 restricted matter includes certain noxious fish, weeds, pest animals such as carp, Mexican feather grass and rabbits. You must not possess or keep this restricted matter under your control. These pests have a high risk of negatively impacting on the environment.
  • Category 6 includes certain invasive animals such as feral deer, foxes, rabbits and wild dogs and noxious fish such as carp, gambusia and tilapia. You must not feed this category of restricted matter. With the exception of the fish species, feeding for the purpose of preparing for or undertaking a control program is exempted.
  • Category 7 restricted matter includes the noxious fish carp, weatherloach, climbing perch, gambusia and tilapia. If you have these noxious fish in your possession you must kill the restricted matter and dispose of it by burying the whole carcass (no parts removed) in the ground above  the high tide water mark or placing it in a waste disposal receptacle.

Multiple categories may apply to restricted matter, and in such cases you would need to follow the requirements of all categories for these restricted matter listings. For example, the Act lists rabbits as category 3, 4, 5, and 6 restricted matter.

You may apply for a permit to deal with restricted matter for scientific research, commercial use or biological control purposes. Other legislation regulating the exhibited animal industry allows rabbits to be kept under permit for exhibition purposes including for use in magic acts and by zoos. You must comply with the requirements of each category for restricted matter unless otherwise authorised by a regulation or a permit.

Powers under the Act to deal with risk to your land

The Biosecurity Act provides a range of tools and powers that are tailored to the seriousness of the biosecurity threat. They will support responses to anything from emergency disease and pest eradication programs through to established pest and disease management.

Biosecurity emergency orders are primarily emergency actions to isolate and stop the spread of biosecurity matter, where possible eradicate it.

A movement and control order is used to assist with the management, reduction or eradication of biosecurity matter by prohibiting or restricting the movement of the biosecurity matter or a carrier.

Biosecurity programs are used in non-emergency situations to enable government to proactively identify and respond to a pest, disease or other biosecurity matter that poses a risk. For example, a surveillance program may be authorised to monitor compliance, or a prevention and control program may prevent the entry or establishment of biosecurity matter in an area.

Biosecurity zones can be established across whole or part of the state to eradicate, reduce or manage a plant or animal pest or disease, or contaminant.

Biosecurity orders may be used to enforce the general biosecurity obligation if a person has failed or may fail to meet their obligations.

How local governments can act and assist

Local governments are responsible for ensuring management in their area of invasive plants and animals that are prohibited or restricted matter. You should notify your local council if you find any restricted matter, so they have the opportunity to investigate the report and respond as per their Biosecurity Plan if required. If you find prohibited matter or Category 1 restricted matter you must report it to Biosecurity Queensland.

Under the Act, a local government is able to appoint an authorised person, with powers of entry to check compliance with the Act or to take action under a biosecurity program.
There are a range of options for local government to promote compliance with the new law. This ranges from awareness raising and providing education material, through to issuing specific biosecurity orders where a person has failed to discharge their general biosecurity obligation.