In 2014, the Caring for our Country and Landcare programs were merged to form the National Landcare Programme, with the aim of streamlining governance processes and coordinating investments from a national to a local scale.
In January 2012, an Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity came into effect between the Australian Government and all state and territory governments, except Tasmania. Its aims are to strengthen the working partnership between governments and to improve the national biosecurity system to minimise the impact of invasive species on Australia’s economy, environment and community.
Progress has been made against several priority areas, including:
- development of a national framework to provide integrated and collaborative approaches to plant and animal biosecurity surveillance, communication, engagement, research, development and implementation
- management of established pests and diseases of national significance.
The 3 emergency response deeds signed by the parties to the agreement ensures that national targets are set and monitored for biosecurity management in natural and agricultural settings.
The 2015 Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper (Australian Government 2015b) included a focus on ‘strengthening our approach to drought and risk management’, which made commitments to improving drought forecasting and managing pest animals and weeds in drought-affected areas. It also committed to ‘farming smarter’, which included $50 million to boost Australia’s emergency pest and disease eradication capability. Reviews of the Australian Pest Animal Strategy and the Australian Weeds Strategy, regional forest agreements, and the release of the Australian Government’s white papers on agricultural competitiveness and developing northern Australia (Australian Government 2015c) are helping to set the scene for the coming years.
Increased Indigenous ownership and management of land, particularly in remote areas, provides important ecological, social, political and economic outcomes from looking after Country. Less complex and more dynamic funding and governance arrangements would enhance these opportunities.