Australia’s north is vast and sparsely populated with a coastline over 10,000km long. It is the frontline entry-point for many high risk animal and plant pests and diseases which can damage agriculture and our broader environment.
A clean, safe and ‘biosecure’ northern border benefits all Australia. It helps safeguard investment in agriculture, prevents diseases passing to humans and allows Australia to export around $40 billion of produce around the world when we can prove we don’t have diseases that are present in many other countries.
The Northern Australia Biosecurity Framework (NABF) encourages collaboration between communities, industries and governments to safeguard biosecurity into the future. The NABF will:
- Develop and share information on biosecurity prevention, detection and management, particularly on tropical plant and animal pests and diseases
- Encourage cooperation between governments, agricultural industries and research institutions on tropical biosecurity
- Share resources wherever possible to deliver timely and well-informed decisions about tropical biosecurity.
The NABF will be guided by a Reference Group comprising senior representatives from Australian, Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland governments, Plant Health Australia and Animal Health Australia. The involvement of scientists and communities (especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities) will play a key role in the success of the NABF.
The NABF will help consolidate, inform and support existing biosecurity work, by maintaining strong links to the Northern Agriculture Ministers Forum and the National Biosecurity Committee.
The NABF builds on the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) which was established in 1989 to undertake surveillance for exotic pests and diseases across northern Australia. The new initiatives expand existing collaboration to manage new and growing biosecurity risks in northern Australia. The new areas of work include: increased biosecurity work for rangers; more community information and engagement; supporting biosecurity surveillance in neighbouring countries; improving collection, storage and reporting of tropical biosecurity data; strengthening the diagnostic capacity for tropical biosecurity; and expanding biosecurity surveillance in a number of areas including marine environments and Indian Ocean territories.
This collaboration has been made possible with support from the Developing Northern Australia and Agricultural Competitiveness White Papers. On 15 December 2015 the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook announced additional funding for national biosecurity initiatives with provision for a number of northern/tropical biosecurity projects. This includes $12.4million specifically to expand biosecurity work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island rangers which was announced by Ministers Joyce and Scullion as part of the Developing Northern Australia White Paper.