Frequently Asked Questions

Page last updated: Monday, 18 May 2020 - 3:49pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Widespread and established declared pests such as wild dogs, foxes, feral pigs and rabbits, and weeds such as cotton bush, blackberry and mesquite can cause serious problems for agriculture, the environment, and human health and safety.

Declared Pest Rates provide communities with a budget to manage declared pests that are a priority for their area.

What is the Declared Pest Rate?

Landholders with growing concerns about declared weeds and feral animals in their communities can form Recognised Biosecurity Groups (RBGs), which are community groups formally recognised under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 (BAM Act).

Under the BAM Act these groups can request to have a Declared Pest Rate (DPR) raised in their area of operation, to enable them to help landholders fulfil their legal obligation to control declared pests on their properties.

The DPR is determined each year by the Minister for Agriculture and Food, and are matched by the State Government to double funds available for use.

Does everyone in Western Australia have to pay a Declared Pest Rate?

A DPR is chargeable only for local governments within the prescribed area of a RBG. Not all local governments have a RBG operating in their area, or have a Declared Pest Rate being raised in their area.

There are currently 14 RBGs, and $5.374 million (which includes rates raised and matching State Government funding) will be made available to 13 of these groups in 2019-20. You can find out if you are within a RBG area via our interactive map.

I already pay rates to my local government?

This is not a State or local government rate. The DPR is a State Government initiative, but your rates are given to your local RBG to spend on activities that your community wants to see happen. The State Government is involved by matching dollar-for-dollar any rates raised, which are also made available to the RBGs. 

RBGs or the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development are not involved in the issuing of rates notices or collection of rates – this is done by the Office of State Revenue.

What will my rate be spent on?

Rates are used to implement RBG operational plans for the control of targeted priority declared pests, with activities focused on advice and education/training, and ensuring landholder efforts are coordinated. This includes building awareness, delivering information and workshops, hiring out equipment, and providing materials needed for pest management. Some RBGs carry out on-ground control activities to complement landholders’ efforts.

RBGs also organise coordinated activities, such as community fox shoots, and build partnerships with other RBGs, industry and agencies to control pests such as feral animals requiring large-scale regional efforts.

Because the RBG model is a community based model, deciding on the priority pests that the rates will be spent on is done in consultation with landholders. RBGs provide a number of opportunities for landholders to have input. If you want a greater say you are encouraged to your local RBG direct.

Will my rates pay for RBGs to carry out control on my property?

Some RBGs might allocate funds to on-ground control when they determine there is a need to support landholders, such as managing large volumes of pests that cross tenures across large areas. However, RBG activities are always intended to complement landholder efforts – never to replace them. 

Where landholders don’t have the skills or motivation to carry out pest management, RBGs may instead allocate funds to activities other than on-ground control, such as training and education. The circumstances for each RBG vary, and therefore their activities will not be the same.

Why do I need an RBG and a DPR?

RBGs are needed to achieve a community led and coordinated approach to managing established declared pests. This model allows communities to decide which pests are the biggest problem in their area, and to form a community group (that can become RBGs) that can decide on management strategies that best suit community needs. This approach is nationally recognised and has been very successful. 

RBGs foster increased landholder participation in declared pest control. This is important because landholders (including local, State and Commonwealth Government land managers) have an obligation under the BAM Act to control declared pests.

RBGs are also needed to ensure pest management efforts are coordinated across communities, and where needed on a large scale across regions. Established pests that cross tenure require a coordinated approach for effective management. Pest management can be challenging for individual landholders working in isolation when the species is widespread.

A DPR provides RBGs with the certainty of funding needed to operate over the long term. RBGs require a long term strategic approach to make long-lasting impacts on pest problems. 

I already manage my pests/have no pests to manage

Everyone benefits from an RBG, even those landholders already controlling pests or who currently have no pests to manage. Increased and improved pest management reduces the impact of feral animals and invasive weeds on the environment and native species. 

Recent research carried out through the Threatened Species Recovery Hub highlighted that invasive species are impacting 1257 threatened species in Australia, or about four out of five species. The rabbit topped the top 10 list - impacting more than 321 native threatened species, including both plants and animals. Feral pigs also made the list, impacting 149 threatened species. Many RBGs focus on supporting landholders in their control of feral animals.

Even landholders with no current pest problems may be in need of RBG assistance in the future, and the payment of Declared Pest Rates will ensure their group's ongoing availability.

Was there consultation on the rates?

Under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management (Declared Pest Account) Regulations 2014, the Minister is required to carry out consultation on the proposed rates, to be considered prior to the rates being finalised and gazetted. The consultation period is promoted widely through public notices, social media and direct letters.

How long has the DPR existed?

Five RBGs in WA’s pastoral regions have been collecting a DPR since 2014. Prior to that, it was collected as the Agriculture Pest Rate under the Agriculture and Related Resources Protection Act 1976.

The RBG and DPR model has since been extended to the agricultural region. 

How many RBGs are there?

There are currently 14 RBGs. Each group operates across different local government areas. Not all local governments have an RBG operating in their area. There are other community biosecurity groups that may in the future choose to become formally recognised. Current groups are listed below. 

  • Blackwood Biosecurity Inc
  • Carnarvon Rangelands Biosecurity Association
  • Central Wheatbelt Biosecurity Association
  • Eastern Wheatbelt Biosecurity Group
  • Esperance Biosecurity Association
  • Goldfields-Nullarbor Rangelands Biosecurity Association
  • Kimberley Rangelands Biosecurity Association
  • Leschenault Biosecurity Group
  • Meekatharra Rangelands Biosecurity Association
  • Northern Biosecurity Group
  • Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group
  • Pilbara Regional Biosecurity Group
  • Southern Biosecurity Group
  • Carnarvon Growers Association

Calculating rate contributions

Each RBG covers a different area of the state, and is impacted by different species, the volume of pests, local industry, land use, environmental factors, population demographics and size. Therefore, RBGs have varying pest control priorities, budgets and operations, and may have different rates charged.

The process starts with RBGs developing an annual operational plan, which forms the basis on which to calculate the rate. DPIRD then reviews the plan and advises the Minister for Agriculture and Food what rate is required to deliver on these plans. The rate may be recommended as either the same amount for each property (a flat rate), or rates based on the unimproved value of land as provided by the Valuer General (ad valorem rate).

Before the rates are finalised, landholders and affected parties are invited to provide comments on proposed rates.

Expenditure is detailed in RBG annual reports and audited financial statements, which are submitted to DPIRD, placed on the DPIRD website and tabled at the RBG’s own Annual General Meetings (open to the public).

How are RBG boundaries determined?

When a biosecurity group is seeking to be recognised, the group recommends to the Minister for Agriculture and Food the area to be specified for their operations. DPIRD encourages biosecurity groups to form along shire boundaries. Forming along shire boundaries is the easiest and most efficient way to administer the raising and collection of the Declared Pest Rate.

Can RBGs access other funds?

Yes. In addition to the funds from Declared Pest Rates, RBGs can seek and obtain funds from others sources e.g. State Natural Resources Management Office, Royalties for Regions programs and private organisations. However, rate funding is likely to be the most sustainable way for RBGs to fund activities to control declared pests over the long-term.

How can I get involved with a RBG?

Find out if you have an RBG operating in your area, and contact them to learn about planned activities and opportunites to be involved.

When do I have to pay the rate?

Rates notices are issued by the Office of State Revenue (OSR) in September/October each year. Rates are due 49 days from date of issue. 

How are the rates collected?

The Commissioner of State Revenue through OSR is responsible for issuing and collecting Declared Pest Rate notices. 

The amount of rates to be collected are matched dollar-for-dollar with State Government funds and transferred to the Declared Pest Account, which is administered by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. Funds are then made available to each RBG.

Do pensioners have to pay?

Eligible pensioners can apply to the OSR to have their rate payments postponed, provided they meet the requirements under section 136 of the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007. Contact the Office of State Revenue for more information.

Is there a debt recovery process for unpaid rates?

Yes. The Office of State Revenue (OSR) is responsible for managing the recovery of unpaid rates. Rates are due 49 days from date of issue. Within a month of expiry of the due date, OSR issues a payment demand notice via a letter or e-mail, giving a further 3-4 weeks for payment.

Outstanding debts of two or more years are secured with a Memorial on the Title of the relevant property preventing sale and the registration of a mortgage such as re-financing. If a landholder advises OSR that they are unable to pay their rates, OSR can encourage landholders to make alternative payment arrangements such as instalments.

Contact information

Barney Dzowa
+61 (0)8 9780 6152

 

Author

Barney Dzowa