The New England Weeds Authority (NEWA) board has been suspended by the NSW Minister for Local Government.

An interim administrator has been appointed to oversee the organisation's operations, after serious financial and governance concerns emerged. 

NEWA, operating under the New England County Council, is tasked with managing priority and invasive weeds in the New England area. 

It is governed by representatives from Armidale Regional Council, Walcha Council, Uralla Shire Council, and Glen Innes Severn Shire Council.

The suspension follows financial irregularities discovered by the Office of Local Government, which prevented the NSW Audit Office from completing an audit. 

These gaps in financial records prompted a deeper investigation, uncovering significant issues potentially affecting the partner councils.

“I was alarmed by reports about the financial mismanagement and governance issues at NEWA which is why I have taken this immediate action,” Minister for Local Government Ron Hoenig said. 

He said the intervention was needed to stabilise the organisation and protect the interests of the member councils.

The board's suspension will last for an initial period of three months. 

John Rayner, an independent local government expert and former general manager, has been appointed as interim administrator. 

Rayner will be responsible for addressing the financial and operational concerns and reporting back to the Minister.
He is expected to conduct a thorough review of NEWA's financial position and operational challenges, ensuring that necessary actions are taken to address the identified issues. The findings will be reported back for further decisions regarding the organisation's future governance.

“This is a necessary measure to give confidence to staff and restore proper and effective functioning to the organisation,” Hoenig said.

NEWA is meant to play a crucial role as a Local Control Authority for weed management, and the government says ensuring its continued effectiveness is vital while addressing the governance and financial issues.