New Biosecurity Initiatives

The NSW Government is delivering a package of programs relating to invasive species (pests and weeds) management. The NSW Government has legislated and is recruiting an Independent Biosecurity Commissioner, has tasked the Natural Resources Commission with conducting a baseline study showing the extent of invasive species in NSW, and is directing $10 million towards a Good Neighbour Program to tackle pest and weed infestations. As a package, these commitments will strengthen and secure the resilience of the biosecurity framework, and protect our environment and biodiversity, economy and community from the harm and impacts of pests and weeds.

In June 2023, the Minister for Agriculture appointed Dr Marion Healy to the role of interim Biosecurity Commissioner to drive the delivery of these programs.

Independent Biosecurity Commissioner

Recruitment for the position of the Independent Biosecurity Commissioner has commenced.

The NSW Government committed to appointing a new Independent Biosecurity Commissioner to provide independent expert advice and report to the NSW Parliament on an annual basis.

Throughout July and August 2023, the Interim Biosecurity Commissioner consulted key stakeholders from industry representatives, state and federal government agencies, ministerial advisory committees, and community organisations.

In August 2023, the Interim Biosecurity Commissioner delivered advice to the Minister for Agriculture on the optimal role, functions, and powers of a Commissioner and the Minister for Agriculture, the Hon. Tara Moriarty, then introduced the Biosecurity Amendment (Independent Biosecurity Commissioner) Bill 2023.

On 29 November 2023, the Bill passed Parliament to amend the Biosecurity Act 2015 to give effect to the functions and powers of the Commissioner and deliver on the Government’s commitment.

The overarching goal of this legislationis to protect our environment and biodiversity, economy and community from the harm and impacts of pests and weeds.

The Independent Biosecurity Commissioner will be appointed under the Biosecurity Act. The Commissioner’s advice will be independent with the Commissioner reporting directly to the Minister administering the Biosecurity Act.

The Commissioner will be able to work across government and in consultation with relevant agencies and stakeholders when conducting reviews and will analyse information from a variety of sources to provide independent, system-wide expert, strategic oversight and advice to Government.

Biosecurity is a shared responsibility – having an independent Commissioner overseeing the framework as it relates to pests and weeds will drive accountability, clarify responsibilities, and foster continuous improvement – to help ensure the framework is fit for purpose and protecting our agriculture industries, environment, and communities.

The work of the Commissioner will be guided by its Strategic Annual Work Plan, and reports on the work of the Commissioner will be published online. The Commissioner will also provide an annual report to be tabled in Parliament.

Recommendations to relevant Ministers and the Government from the Commissioner’s reviews will require a response within 6 months. Review reports and Government responses to the reports will be published, to provide accountability and accessibility.

A webpage for the Independent Biosecurity Commissioner is coming soon.

Natural Resources Commission Review

The Interim Biosecurity Commissioner and the Natural Resources Commission have developed a Terms of Reference for a baseline review to develop a clear picture of the extent of invasive species and the damage done to both the environment and the agricultural industry.

Under the Terms of Reference of this review, the Natural Resources Commission will:

  • Quantify the current extent and impacts of invasive species on NSW industry, environment and communities
  • Identify future risks posed to NSW industry, environment and communities by invasive species, including any which are driven by climate change impacts and impacts from natural disasters
  • Consider existing programs and how they could better contribute to improved invasive species management in the future
  • Audit implementation of state and regional invasive species management plans
  • Provide advice to the Independent Biosecurity Commissioner on areas of further investigation regarding potential barriers to effective invasive species.

The review will be completed in mid-2024. Further information on the review can be found on the NRC website.

Good Neighbour Program

The NSW Government is directing $10 million towards a Good Neighbour Program to tackle pest and weed infestations on private property neighbouring public land. The interim Biosecurity Commissioner is working on the development of this program with a focus on ensuring a strategic and long-term benefit from this investment. The interim Biosecurity Commissioner will be providing advice to the Minister about opportunities for the Good Neighbour Program and following this more information will be made available.