THE State government will invest an additional $15.1 million to reinforce Western Australia's biosecurity capabilities to better protect the State's primary industries, environment and access to valuable export markets.
The funding will be provided to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) over four years to enhance early warning and detection systems, boost biosecurity emergency preparedness and build response capacity and capability.
The funding will create 22 new full-time equivalent biosecurity jobs at DPIRD, helping to strengthen its capability and capacity to respond to biosecurity threats.
Early detection is key to responding to exotic pest or disease incursions quickly and cost effectively.
Part of the funding will be used to develop preparedness and surveillance plans for high priority plant and animal pests and diseases, including aquatic pests, which could significantly damage WA's primary industries and trade.
These include African swine fever, khapra beetle and white spot in prawns, as well as environmental pests such as myrtle rust and red imported fire ants.
As seen with COVID-19, early warning of high impact pests and diseases increases the speed and effectiveness of emergency response measures to contain or eradicate the pest or disease.
Comprehensive surveillance plans also enable WA to demonstrate area freedom from many pests and diseases to trading partners to maintain access to valuable export markets.
Government and industry's ability to respond to biosecurity threats will also be increased with further training of people for response activities and modernisation of the systems needed to meet the challenge of managing more frequent and overlapping emergency responses.
"Agriculture and food is one of our State's key export industries, supporting thousands of local jobs and delivering economic benefits for all Western Australians," said Premier Mark McGowan.
"This additional biosecurity support will create an additional 22 biosecurity jobs in WA, while strengthening the systems in place to protect our local food production.
"This additional support will ensure we can detect and react to biosecurity threats faster and more effectively - ensuring Western Australia can maintain its world-leading status as a producer of quality primary produce for local consumption and our export markets."
Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said building a stronger biosecurity system was critical to growing the State's economy and protecting the $11 billion agriculture and fisheries industries, as well as natural resources.
"The earlier we detect a pest or disease, the faster the response, the better chance we have to eradicate it and the greater the long term benefits to the entire community," Ms MacTiernan said.
"In 2020 alone we managed six biosecurity incidents concurrently across Western Australia, including Queensland fruit fly (Qfly), red imported fire ants and khapra beetle.
"Successfully eradicating Qfly alone saved the State's horticulture industries an estimated $38 million annually in lost production and market access."
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