Queensland Species Technical Committee Terms of Reference
The Queensland Species Technical Committee (STC) was established in December 2007 under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NC Act) to provide advice on the conservation status of species at risk of extinction in Queensland.
The Memorandum of Understanding for a Common Assessment Method (CAM) signed by Queensland in 2017 defines and increases the level of interaction between similar committees in other Australian state and territory jurisdictions (e.g. the Commonwealth Threatened Species Scientific Committee) to improve collaboration to align threatened species lists, and to facilitate the capture of the most current information available for species conservation assessments.
Role of the committee
The STC is appointed under Section 132 of the NC Act to advise the Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Youth Affairs (the Minister) on the classification of wildlife under the NC Act.
The role of the STC is to provide the Minister and the Director General of the Department of Environment and Science (DES) with recommendations and advice on the listing/delisting and status of species under the NC Act, the Nature Conservation Animals Regulation 2020 and the Nature Conservation Plants Regulations 2020, while being consistent with the principles of the CAM.
The Committee may advise the Minister on other matters that the Minister specifies.
Only the Chair has the authority to make statements on behalf of the STC.
STC membership is a specialised, technical, and highly valued honorary role. All members are to have expert knowledge and experience in the sciences of aquatic and/or terrestrial zoology, botany, conservation, species management and/or native wildlife ecology, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List categories and criteria. Members may also facilitate information input as representatives of their sectors. The Queensland Government greatly appreciates the time and expertise provided by both non-government and Queensland Public Service officers appointed to the STC.
Retaining membership for a full term and/or subsequent terms is desirable.
Although no minimum time commitment is set, it is expected that STC members will prioritise participating in the required Committee meetings and allocating appropriate preparation time for reviewing agenda items and papers.
At their own discretion, members can also function as information providers on relevant issues to the sectors they represent. It is the responsibility of members to identify conflicts of interest between sharing information and respecting the confidentiality of some of the information provided to the STC, and to seek and follow direction regarding disclosure of information. This can be done during STC meetings or out of session by writing to the Chair.
The STC will consist of no more than 12 members appointed by the Minister. No more than 50% of members may be officers of the Department of Environment and Science. The committee should also include membership from universities and/or groups specialising in threatened species management.
As required, the STC may source additional expertise to provide supplementary knowledge or advice.
Observers may attend meetings with the prior approval of the Chair. Guests and specialist advisers may be invited to attend meetings and provide advice to the committee.
Appointment to the committee
The Chair and all STC members are appointed by the Minister under the NC Act.
The Minister may appoint either a Queensland Public Service Officer or a private citizen to be the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson.
Expressions of interest for new STC members may be publicly advertised.
Nominations will be encouraged from individuals who have the capacity to provide advice for multiple taxonomic groups.
Members are appointed in their own right and not as representatives of any particular organisation.
Term of appointment
Members will be appointed for a fixed term no greater that six years and are eligible for re-appointment for a term not exceeding six years.
A shorter term of appointment can be made to replace a member, for new members or to supplement STC knowledge and skills to meet emerging requirements.
Meeting attendance and procedures
Members are strongly encouraged to attend all meetings, either in person or via Teams or phone. The Chair may choose to invite only some members to be present at specific meetings, or specific parts of meetings, based on the need for advice in the areas of their expertise.
The STC will operate according to the following procedures:
- at any meeting of the STC, five members form a quorum
- STC meetings will occur at least twice annually and will be called by the Chair as required to enable nominations accumulated since the previous meeting to be assessed and/or reviewed within appropriate timeframes
- the STC will keep full and accurate minutes of the proceedings and decisions at each of its meetings.
Remuneration of committee members
Remuneration, expenses and allowances for Queensland Public Service officers will be in accord with standard Queensland Public Service Award determinations and relevant departmental operational policy and will be organised by the individual STC member using their substantive departmental budget.
Non-government STC members do not receive sitting fees. For members who reside outside Brisbane, costs associated with travel to attend meetings may be reimbursed by prior arrangement with the Chair.
Roles of Chair, members and secretariat
The responsibilities of the Chair include:
- conduct meetings according to standard meeting procedure and the committee terms of reference.
- facilitate discussion on agenda items in a timely manner, seeking consensus on decisions
- develop recommendations to provide to the Minister
- facilitate participation of all STC members in the meeting
- act as spokesperson for the STC
- present STC advice/recommendations, including unanimous, majority and/or divergent views on discussion topics
- liaise with the Directors of the Department of Environment and Science (DES) Queensland Herbarium and Threatened Species Operations, Conservation Policy and Planning, and other parties as required
- liaise between DES, the CAM working group and the STC
- consult with the DES Media Unit in making media statements on behalf of the STC
- maintain a comprehensive database of all STC actions and species nominated and assessed as threatened species under the NC Act
- provide a report to DES on the results of all STC deliberations that require action under the NC Act Regulations and/or publishing to the DES website.
The responsibilities of members include:
- prioritise attending meetings and allocate preparation time for reviewing agenda items and associated papers
- provide scientific and technical expertise, knowledge and advice
- provide advice that is consistent with current scientific views, the CAM, the NC Act and Regulations through written and oral input. Members may also be required to research and prepare data and advice to support species assessments
- participate in discussion to assist the STC formulate views on issues brought before the STC and making appropriate recommendations
- consult with other experts, industry and stakeholders and disseminate information (subject to any overriding confidentiality and media provisions under these terms of reference and the Queensland Public Service Code of Conduct).
The Secretariat will be provided by DES to provide administrative support including:
- assist in preparing agenda items and associated papers for meetings in a timely manner
- document STC processes and outputs including minutes, meeting reports and correspondence, and otherwise assist the Chair commensurate with the role
- manage the STC mailbox on behalf of the STC, distribute contents as required and undertake STC related development tasks to support the work of the STC
- undertake communication and data exchange between the STC and the Department as required
- assist with communication and data exchange between the STC and other jurisdictions, including the CAM working group
- assist in effecting CAM implementation.
Termination of committee membership
STC membership can only be terminated by the individual or the Minister. Reasons for termination by the Minister may include a change of occupation, residence or other circumstances resulting in the member ceasing to be a person suitable to represent the interests that were the basis for his or her appointment in the opinion of the Chair and/or the Minister.
Members may resign at any time. The member must notify the Minister in writing of their desire to resign, and this shall come into effect upon receipt and acceptance of the resignation letter by the Minister.
Operation of meetings
The STC may hold meetings by means of any technology permitting communication between members.
The calling of an STC meeting and the conduct of business at STC meetings is to be as determined by the Chair in consultation with STC members.
The Chairperson will chair the meeting.
If the Chairperson is absent, the meeting may be led by the Deputy Chairperson or a temporary Chairperson elected by the committee.
Decisions arising at a meeting will be by consensus.
Where consensus is not possible, decisions may be determined by a majority vote of STC members present, or where the expertise of absent members is required, the Chair may contact relevant persons and accept their vote in writing. If this occurs, the minutes will reflect the number of members supporting a particular view and the alternate views of members not supporting a recommendation.
The STC may consider matters and provide advice or make recommendations out-of-session.
Out-of-session papers will be reserved for (i) urgent issues or (ii) issues approved for out-of-session consideration through the agreement of a majority of STC members.
Matters decided out-of-session by the STC must be noted by the STC at the next formal meeting and recorded in the minutes of that meeting.
Meetings of the STC may be convened by any five members. Ideally this will be, but is not restricted to, the Chair and four other STC members.
In the absence of the Chair, the person acting in the office of Deputy Chair or elected temporary Chair is to preside at a meeting.
Members are strongly encouraged to attend all meetings where their specific areas of expertise will be called on.
The STC will meet as necessary at a frequency and timing determined by the Chair in response to the waitlist of species nominations to be assessed.
Disclosing conflicts of interest
Conflicts of interest must be disclosed and dealt with by the STC in a transparent way. A conflict of interest arises in relation to a person's duties as a member of the STC if, for example:
The member has interests which could improperly influence the performance of his/her responsibilities as an STC member.
There is the potential for a member to personally benefit from access to non-public information, or the results of non-public discussions or decision-making processes.
An STC member must declare any actual or potential conflicts using the relevant Departmental form as soon as possible after the relevant facts come to the member's knowledge. Where a declaration is made, the STC must:
- refuse the member the right to participate in discussions when the matter is being considered; and/or
- require the member to withdraw from a meeting for the period of discussion and resolution of that business; and
- record the declared conflict in the minutes of the STC meeting.