The Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources works with industry and other government agencies to ensure the safety, security and continuity of Australia's food supply.
The food supply chain is a complex and nationally distributed system. It is not organised along state and territory borders and is generally owned and operated by the private sector. The complexity of the system may present challenges in maintaining food supply continuity in the case of widespread emergencies.
States and territories have the lead responsibility for planning for and responding to emergency events within their jurisdictions. There is no specific Commonwealth legislation which gives the Australian government authority or power to regulate or manage the manufacture, distribution or sale of food in the event of an emergency. As this is the case, ensuring food supply chain resilience is important at a national level, not just at regional and local levels.
The concept of resilience planning by the Australian Government originally focused on how to protect Australia against the threat of an influenza pandemic and support the Australian community. Resilience planning has since broadened to include the capacity to respond to and recover from national disasters and emergencies, including bushfires, floods, cyclones or other unexpected disruptions. The Australian Government approach to critical infrastructure resilience is outlined in the Critical infrastructure resilience strategy.
A departmental study into resilience in the Australian food supply chain found that to date the Australian food supply chain has demonstrated a high degree of resilience, but there are factors on both the demand and supply side of the chain that are decreasing future resilience. The study also noted a number of potential threats to the supply of food and groceries in Australia in the event of a severe emergency.
Further information about Food chain resilience is available by emailing food information.