This week the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie announced the establishment of a new biosecurity advisory group, Biosecurity Futures.
The group will be made up of members from the National Farmers’ Federation, Australian Pork Limited, Fertiliser Australia, Freight and Trade Alliance, Food and Beverage Importers Association, Tourism and Transport Forum, Minerals Council and Seafood Industry Australia.
It will be chaired by the Minister and meet twice a year, or as needed, to discuss biosecurity concerns as well as ways to improve the biosecurity system.
National Farmers’ Federation CEO Tony Mahar said he was looking forward to working with the group to discuss the diverse biosecurity issues that affect the agriculture sector.
“Australia’s biosecurity system is absolutely fundamental to the success of our agriculture industries, to the health of our natural environment and to our society and economy at large,” said Mr Mahar.
“We welcome the Minister’s decision to set up this new advisory group, which will allow industry to contribute constructively to biosecurity policy discussions at a high level.”
In May this year, the Inspector General of Biosecurity said that Australia’s border biosecurity system was almost at breaking point due to the effort required to keep the brown marmorated stink bug out.
Following this announcement, as well as the recent fear of other highly damaging pests and diseases such as African swine fever and Xylella fastidiosa, there has been an increased focus on biosecurity.
“We’re operating in an increasingly global environment – the volume of goods and people moving in and out of the country continues to grow, and so too does the biosecurity task,” said Mr Mahar.
“A single biosecurity incursion has the potential to bring one or more of our farming industries to its knees, and to cause untold damage to our unique natural environment.
“Resourcing the system that keeps these unwanted pests out is too important to compromise.
“We need increased and sustainable funding to support a strong biosecurity system – be that through an imports levy or another mechanism.”
Minister McKenzie’s announcement was part of an address to the National Biosecurity Forum, where she also signed on to the National Biosecurity Statement.
The statement was developed by industry, environment groups and government to articulate a vision for the biosecurity system and demonstrate the principle of shared responsibility and can be read here.