Govt begins biosecurity reform in response to 'systemic challenges'

Govt begins to reform biosecurity in response to 'systemic challenges'

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"We are facing growing biosecurity risks that are becoming more complex and harder to manage, as pests and diseases spread overseas and more cargo and mail arrives in Australia."

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THE federal government has begun the process of reforming the nation's biosecurity, in response to several reviews that have highlighted a number of systemic challenges.

Commonwealth Biosecurity 2030 aims to strengthen the biosecurity system by focusing on nine key areas, including how the system will be sustainably funded, which has remained an ongoing concern since the government suddenly backflipped on an importer levy last year.

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment secretary Andrew Metcalfe said the plan would ensure Australia's biosecurity system stayed ahead of current and growing biosecurity threats.

"We are facing growing biosecurity risks that are becoming more complex and harder to manage, as pests and diseases spread overseas and more cargo and mail arrives in Australia," Mr Metcalfe said.

"A strong biosecurity system is all that stands between us and these growing risks.

"We'll do this by focusing on better governance and regulation, improved use of available technology, supporting our people capability, as well as sustainable, effective funding."

This year, National Farmers Federation has vocally lobbied the Commonwealth to make biosecurity a top priority.

NFF chief excitative Tony Mahar said the ag industry was particularly interested in the action for a funding and investment model that met emerging needs.

"Since the failure of the biosecurity imports levy, the NFF has been looking for a commitment to a long-term, renewable biosecurity funding stream," Mr Mahar said.

DAWE deputy secretary and head of biosecurity Andrew Tongue said the 2030 plan would work towards a National Biosecurity Strategy, which does not currently exist, that would outline the expectations and responsibilities of governments, industry and individuals.

"Australia's biosecurity system relies on partnerships, relationships and involvement from a range of stakeholders across the country," Mr Tongue said.

"We need it to be a risk-based system that effectively, efficiently and sustainably protects Australia against the biosecurity threats of today and tomorrow."

The 2030 strategy comes off the back of $371m budget announcement to strengthen biosecurity.

The funding, spread out over four years, includes $58.6m dedicated to preventing African swine fever from reaching Australian shores, and $67m for a new response and surveillance program that will include a stress test of the nation's biosecurity system through a simulated outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

Almost $97m will go to a new system that identifies at-risk cargo containers before they are unloaded, $34.6 million to better understand how pests and diseases could enter the country, particularly in northern Australia and $3.9m for a community biosecurity awareness campaign.

The remaining $105m will be committed to strengthening the nation's border screen processes for passengers, packages and mail.

The story Govt begins biosecurity reform in response to 'systemic challenges' first appeared on Farm Online.

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