What is the declared pest rate?
The declared pest rate (DPR) is a rate that can be raised under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 (BAM Act) for the purposes of controlling declared pests in a prescribed area. The Minister of Agriculture and Food determines the rate chargeable on the land in the defined area. This is done in partnership with a Recognised Biosecurity Group which operates in the relevant area and Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).
The DPR has been collected in the pastoral lease areas since 2014. Prior to 2014 and since the late 1970s, it was collected as the Agriculture Pest Rate under the previous legislation (Agriculture and Related Resources Protection Act 1976).
In conjunction with newly formed biosecurity groups, the DPR is being extended into the agricultural areas. In 2016/17 the rate was determined to apply in 11 shires in the Eastern Wheatbelt region and to an area in the Shire of Carnarvon classed as rural freehold land for the first time. This rate is being gradually extended to areas in the South West Land Division as biosecurity groups mature and gain community support.
The DPR is collected by the Commissioner of State Revenue through the Department of Finance’s Office of State Revenue (OSR). Rate assessment notices (invoices) are usually issued in September each year.
Rates are matched with State Government funds and transferred to the Declared Pest Account (DPA) administered by DPIRD. These funds are made available to the respective Recognised Biosecurity groups to manage declared pests in their area of operation.
What is the purpose of the DPR?
The DPR is a mechanism that provides RBGs with ongoing funds to control declared pests over the long term. It is based on the principle of shared responsibility and partnerships between the government and landholders for the control of widespread declared pests. Funds raised by the rates are matched by the State Government under the BAM Act.
How are rates determined?
The BAM Act enables the Minister to determine a rate chargeable on land prescribed by regulation. The rate is determined either as an ad valorem rate or a flat rate:
- A flat rate: where the same amount is charged for each property.
- An ad valorem rate: a charge (cents-in-the-dollar) applied on the unimproved value of land as provided by the Valuer General.
The process of planning for the determination of a rate starts with an RBG determining or reviewing their priority declared pests and developing a declared pest action plan. This is done in consultation with affected landholders through meetings, public forums or attending the group’s Annual General Meeting among other activities.
The plan and budget is submitted to DPIRD for review and approval. DPIRD then advises the Minister for Agriculture and Food as to what rate should be determined to raise adequate funds for each RBG to deliver on its plans.
Before setting the rate, the Minister consults with landholders and affected parties in the RBG’s operational area by inviting and giving 20 working days for people to make submissions. A public notice is placed in the local or regional newspaper(s). This is done annually and is required under the BAM Act.
Rates are determined before 30 June for the following financial year. The rates for the financial year are published in the Government Gazette before June 30.
What role do RBGs have?
The BAM Act enables the Minister to formally recognise a group as a Recognised Biosecurity Group for the purposes of controlling declared pests in a specified area. RBGs provide landholders and managers a way to adopt a coordinated approach to controlling and managing declared pests in their area.
Rates collected from landholders in one RBG area are not available for use by another RBG.
RBGs are DAFWA’s preferred partnership arrangement for the control of widespread and established declared pests. Work undertaken by RBGs is intended to add value to individual landholder’s control activities, not replace individual responsibilities to control declared pests.