Pest control funds get top-up after rates decision shortfall

Edward ScownMidwest Times
Delaney’s Well in Karara Rangeland Park.
Camera IconDelaney’s Well in Karara Rangeland Park. Credit: Grady Brand

Recognised biosecurity groups across the Mid West have seen six figure shortfalls because of a payment dispute between government and pastoral lease holders.

Now the State Government has stepped in with $1 million to make up the funding gap.

RBGs collect a declared pest rate payment from all pastoralists in their regions, which are matched dollar-for-dollar by the State Government. These payments go towards collective pest management strategies such as building fences, supplying ammunition subsidies and grants for weed eradication.

The pastoralists’ payments are based on the unimproved value of their land — the value of the land alone. In the previous financial year, objections raised over those values were accepted by the Valuer General, meaning rates decreased, but not before RBGs had budgeted for them.

“While the system is based on a 50-50 split of funding between the State Government and the landholders, the decision of some pastoralists to appeal their rental rates meant the operations of the RBGs in the coming year was at risk without additional government funding,” Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said.

Meekatharra Rangelands Biosecurity Association, which covers an area stretching from the Shire of Perenjori up to Newman, saw a $200,000 drop in revenue as a result. The association was able to make up the shortfall without having to reduce its services, but it took all of its cash reserves.

This system falls under the Biosecurity and Agricultural Management Act, which is under review by the State Government.

The review will include assessing the way declared pest rates are calculated. The $1m payment will mean the Government’s contribution has not changed compared to last financial year.

“It is important that we do not see a repeat of this situation in future years,” Ms MacTiernan said.

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