Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity review – agriculture ministers’ response

​Publication details

Agriculture Ministers’ Forum, November 2018

Australian agriculture ministers have responded to the independent panel’s final Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity (IGAB) report, Priorities for Australia’s biosecurity system.

Each jurisdiction recognises the importance of investing in a smarter biosecurity system. They support the 42 recommendations and have started to action them.

Their response identifies 5 key areas of focus:

  • biosecurity awareness across the community
  • sustainable funding of the biosecurity system
  • managing risk through research and innovation
  • our capability to manage biosecurity across all sectors, and
  • monitoring system performance.

Read the full response from Australian agriculture ministers to the report.

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Statement by agriculture ministers

Agriculture Ministers are pleased to present our national, intergovernmental response to the findings and recommendations of the 2017 report Priorities for Australia’s biosecurity system: an independent review of the capacity of the national biosecurity system and its underpinning intergovernmental agreement.

Australia has an enviable biosecurity status that protects our agricultural communities, our unique environment and way of life and greatly benefits our nation’s economy by ensuring our reputation as a producer of clean, safe and high quality agricultural, and forestry and fisheries exports into the global market.

Upon presentation of the report in July 2017, we identified that its 42 recommendations provided an important roadmap to guide our efforts to strengthen our national biosecurity system over the next five to ten years.

We acknowledge, as the report has, that the challenges facing our national biosecurity system continue to grow as the volume and complexity of global trade and travel increases. However, together we are committed to building a smarter biosecurity system.

To achieve this, we will focus on a number of priority areas as identified by the report, by our governments and by key stakeholders, to better prepare and respond to pests and diseases, increase biosecurity awareness across the community, enhance our capability to manage environmental biosecurity and better manage risk through research and innovation.

We recognise the importance of investment to progress improvements within the biosecurity system. Each jurisdiction has a responsibility to contribute.

Since we received the report in July 2017 our governments have been working together to deliver on a number of recommendations including:

  • an enhanced focus on environmental biosecurity through the establishment of the new Environment and Invasives Committee, the Australian Government position of Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer, and development of a national exotic environmental pest and disease priority list
  • designing an Industry and Community Reference Group, which will raise emerging issues and consider matters referred to it by the National Biosecurity Committee
  • development of the National Biosecurity Statement by an independent working group to describe roles and responsibilities of system participants
  • progressing a nationally consistent system for the allocation and use of property identification codes across the animal and major plant production sectors
  • development of national data sharing protocols to facilitate data sharing between governments
  • development of emergency response deeds for aquatic animal diseases and exotic production weeds, and
  • development of a refreshed Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity, which is intended to be signed by First Ministers by the end of this year.

We will continue the momentum gained from this to ensure the successful implementation of the remaining recommendations. This will require the cooperation and contribution between governments, industry, importers, other key stakeholders and the wider Australian community, as part of our shared responsibility for biosecurity.

Our response to the report demonstrates our continued, shared commitment to building a national biosecurity system that can effectively manage biosecurity risks into the future.

We again thank the independent review panel chaired by Dr Wendy Craik AM for their efforts in reviewing the capacity of the national biosecurity system and the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity, and look forward to working with all system participants – governments, industry, the community and others – to improve the system for the benefit of our country.