Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer

Australia is taking the lead on environmental biosecurity with the introduction of Ian Thompson as Australia’s first Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer (CEBO). He is the primary representative and advisor to the Australian Government on environmental biosecurity risks.

The CEBO will:

  • ensure environmental biosecurity issues remain central to discussions
  • work with government, industry, communities and environmental groups to protect Australia from pests and diseases that affect the environment
  • take a strategic and transparent approach to national environmental biosecurity preparedness and investment
  • work closely with the Department of the Environment and Energy and the Threatened Species Commissioner.

What’s at risk

Pests and diseases pose a significant risk to our environment, communities and way of life. They also threaten our economy, including our position as an iconic tourist destination.

The costs are significant. For example, red imported fire ants have the capacity to cause havoc in our environment and would cost an estimated $1.5 billion per year if they became established.

CEBO’s priorities

  • build and maintain relationships with the environmental sector
  • finalise the national priority list of exotic environmental pests and diseases
  • be the national point of notification for environmental pest and disease detections under the National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement
  • develop a formal arrangement with the Department of the Environment and Energy, and
  • design and deliver expenditure of the annual $825,000 project fund. 

This work will ensure Australia’s environmental and community biosecurity risks are better identified and prioritised. It will also improve environmental biosecurity preparedness, surveillance and response capacity.

About Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson started as Australia’s Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer in October 2018.  He was previously head of the Sustainable Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Division in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources with responsibility for community and Indigenous engagement, as well as fisheries, forestry, agvet chemicals and the National Landcare Programme.

Ian’s previous experience has been in:

  • biosecurity policy and emergency response
  • plant industry policy
  • drought management
  • rural adjustment
  • rural leadership
  • water reform. 

This is a national leadership role like the:

Media statement

Inaugural Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer appointment announced.