Excerpt from page 2 of the South Australian Government, Green Paper, Review of the Animal and Plant Control (Agricultural Protection and other Purposes) Act, 1986 (), September 1995.
Legislation for the control of declared or proclaimed plants and animals were some of the earliest legislation proclaimed in the colony of South Australia. For example the Legislation Council considered legislation to compel land occupiers to control Scotch thistle in October 1851, three months after the legislature was formed. As a result, the Thistle Act of 1852 was proclaimed. In 1862 the relevant legislation provided for notices to be issued to compel destruction of declared weeds on occupied land and half of adjoining roadsides. Local government became responsible for enforcing the law at this time. Subsequent legislation led to the appointment of authorised weeds officers. The Pest Plants Act 1975 introduced a statutory body to develop appropriate policy State-wide and also introduced the concept of "community pest plants" to protect the community from non-agricultural weeds.Similarly the early Rabbit Destruction Act of 1875 obliged farmers and graziers to control rabbits, with this control being supervised by district councils in those parts of the State covered by local government. Later legislation gave the South Australian Government the ability to employ rabbit control groups to control rabbits on the properties of uncooperative land managers on a cost-recovery basis. The Vertebrate Pests Act 1975 provided adequate funds for scientific investigation of vertebrate pest problems, along with a State-wide statutory framework and statutory body to set appropriate policy, and a strong system of local government control so that these policies were relevant to local needs and conditions.In august 1986 the Animal and Plants Control Bill was first considered by Parliament and assented to in December 1986. It was proclaimed operative on 5 March 1987 to allow the new Commission to be appointed before the Act became fully operational.
Current update on the history of animal and plant control is the most recent advent of The Natural Resources Management Act 2004 which integrates natural resources management. It responded to the need to better align the policies and programs of the disparate statutory bodies and to ensure a legal framework was in place to deliver funding programs established under Intergovernmental Agreements.
The new Act replaced The Animal and Plant Control (Agricultural Protection and Other Purposes) Act 1986, The Soil Conservation and Land Care Act 1989 and The Water Resources Act 1997. The best of the institutional arrangements were revised into a new structure with the operational provisions being updated and moved across to provide a large degree of consistency and minimum change, except where it was needed. The Act also provided a vehicle for the implementation of key Australian Government programs, such as Caring for Our Country.