Our department

​​​The Department of Agriculture:

  • provides advice to the Australian Government on how to help our primary industries remain competitive, productive and sustainable into the future
  • administers Australian Government programmes and legislation that support this objective, including the collection of levies for research, development and marketing 
  • regulates the import of food and other goods to ensure Australia is safeguarded against exotic animal and plan pests and disease
  • regulates the provision of export certification of agriculture, fish and forest products to meet importing country requirements.

Strategic priorities

To achieve the department’s purposes, we work throughout the supply chain, from producer to consumer. Our strategic priorities in 2014–15 reflected the principal areas of reform or implementation as part of the continuing delivery of policy, programme, regulatory responsibilities and services:

  • through effective policy advice and regulation, contribute to the productivity and prosperity of the Australian agriculture, fishing and forest industries
  • operate and modernise Australia’s biosecurity and export certification system
  • provide sound and timely policy advice, including high-quality commodity forecasts, research and statistics to government and the private sector
  • pursue export opportunities for the Australian agriculture, fishing and forest industries
  • reduce the regulatory burden for our clients
  • build a positive workplace in a time of change
  • achieve long-term, sustainable financial arrangements while delivering our activities on time and within budget
  • ensure a risk-based intervention model is in place for all regulatory activities.

Planned outcomes

The department has two planned outcomes.

Outcome 1

More sustainable, productive, internationally competitive and profitable Australian agricultural, food and fibre industries through policies and initiatives that promote better resource management practices, innovation, self-reliance and improved access to international markets.

Priorities for Outcome 1 in 2014–15 included:

  • supporting the development of the White Paper on Agricultural Competitiveness and the White Paper on Developing No​rthern Australia
  • implementing the government’s package of support for drought-affected farmers
  • implementing the Farm Household Allowance to provide support to farmers experiencing financial hardship, irrespective of the cause, to access basic support for their families
  • supporting rural research, development and extension, including through research and development corporations
  • improving access to agricultural and veterinary chemicals, including minor use chemicals
  • supporting commercial and recreational fishing representative bodies to participate more fully in fisheries policy development
  • supporting a ministerial working group to identify infrastructure projects to deliver Australia’s future water supply needs
  • extending regional forest agreements to provide resource security and a stable investment environment to the forestry industry.

Outcome 2

Safeguard Australia’s animal and plant health status to maintain overseas markets and protect the economy and environment from the impact of exotic pests and diseases, through risk assessment, inspection and certification, and the implementation of emergency response arrangements for Australian agricultural, food and fibre industries.

Priorities for Outcome 2 in 2014–15 included:

  • providing efficient and effective biosecurity and export certification services within a risk-based approach
  • strengthening biosecurity and quarantine arrangements, including emergency response ​arrangements for exotic pest and disease incursions
  • supporting the eradication and management of nationally significant agricultural and environmental plant and animal pests and diseases
  • assisting small exporters with the costs of gaining export certification
  • initiating work to better understand and manage marine pests
  • progressing biosecurity reforms to more effectively and efficiently manage biosecurity risk in the context of continued growth in trade volumes
  • progressing the transition of post-entry quarantine operations to a single facility, which will occur from late 2015
  • conducting a review of the structure of fees and charges under cost-recovery arrangements to ensure these are appropriate as part of a sustainable funding model for biosecurity and export certification services.

Organisational structure

Our divisions work individually and together to meet our objectives. Figure 7 shows our organisational structure.

Figure 7 Organisational structure 2014–15

This chart shows the Department of Agriculture’s organisational structure in 2014–15:  Daryl Quinlivan was the Secretary.  The Office of the General Counsel reported directly to the Secretary. Kerrie-Anne Luscombe was the General Counsel  Phillip Glyde was a deputy secretary reporting to the Secretary. Mr Glyde was responsible for three divisions, which were:  Sustainability and Biosecurity Policy, led by Ian Thompson;  Agricultural Adaptation and Forestry, led by Nico Padovan;  And Agricultural Policy, led by Fran Freeman.  Mr Glyde was also responsible for the Governance Branch, led by Lee Cale.  Rona Mellor was a deputy secretary reporting to the Secretary. Ms Mellor was responsible for five divisions, which were:  Biosecurity Animal, led by Tim Chapman;  Biosecurity Plan, led by Louise van Meurs as acting division head;  Compliance, led by Raelene Vivian;  Service Delivery, led by Greg Williamson;  And Information Services, led by the Chief Information Officer, Graham Gathercole.  Two other positions reported to Rona Mellor. They were:  The Australian Chief Veterinary Officer, Mark Schipp;  And the Chief Scientist and Australian chief Plant Protection Officer, Kim Ritman.  Jo Evans was a deputy secretary reporting to the Secretary. Ms Evans was responsible for four divisions, which were:  The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, with Karen Schneider as Executive Director;  Finance and Business Support, led by the Chief Finance Officer, Emily Canning;  Exports, led by Greg Read;  And Trade and Market Access, led by Vanessa Findlay.

Our executive

Daryl Quinlivan commenced as the secretary of the department in June 2015, following two years as the Head of Office with the Productivity Commission.

Dr Paul Grimes was secretary of the department for the period to March 2015.

The secretary is responsible for the efficient and effective operation of the department. His other roles include:

  • Director of Animal and Plant Quarantine
  • chair of the Executive Management Committee (EMC)
  • chair of National Management Groups for nationally coordinated emergency responses to pest and disease incursions
  • chair of the National Biosecurity Committee
  • chair of the Agriculture Senior Officials Committee.

From 1 November 2014, the secretary also exercises powers to control horticulture industry exports under the Horticulture Marketing and Research and Development Services Act 2000.

Three deputy secretaries assist the secretary across a range of issues and departmental functions and oversee the work of particular divisions.

Phillip Glyde joined the department in November 2006. In 2014–15, Mr Glyde was responsible for the work of the Sustainability and Biosecurity Policy, Agricultural Adaptation and Forestry, and Agricultural Policy Divisions, and the Governance Branch.

His other roles included:

  • member of the EMC
  • member of the EMC Change Management Committee
  • member of the EMC Budget, Investment and Finance Committee
  • chair of the Security Committee
  • deputy chair of the Audit Committee
  • member of the Food Regulation Standing Committee of the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council
  • Commissioner of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna
  • departmental Disability Champion
  • departmental ECONet Champion.

Rona Mellor PSM joined the department in February 2010. In 2014–15, Ms Mellor was responsible for the work of the biosecurity divisions and the Information Services and Service Delivery divisions. Her other roles included:

  • member of the EMC
  • chair of the EMC Change Management Committee
  • chair of the EMC Information and Communication Technology Committee
  • chair of the EMC Legislation and Regulatory Reform Committee
  • chair of the EMC People Committee
  • member of the EMC Budget, Investment and Finance Committee
  • departmental Graduate Champion.

Ms Mellor left the department at the end of 2014–15.

Jo Evans was appointed deputy secretary in November 2014, following the retirement of Mr Mark Tucker. In 2014–15, Ms Evans was responsible for the work of ABARES and the Finance and Business Support, Exports, and Trade and Market Access divisions. Her other roles included:

  • member of the EMC
  • chair of the EMC Budget, Investment and Finance Committee
  • chair of the EMC Information Management Committee
  • member of the EMC Change Management Committee
  • departmental Indigenous Champion.

Division roles and responsibilities

Agricultural Adaptation and Forestry Division

The Agricultural Adaptation and Forestry Division develops policies and implements programmes to support farm families and businesses through periods of financial hardship, including hardship because of drought. The policies aim to improve the capacity of Australia’s primary industries and producers to adapt and adjust to a changing climate while improving productivity. The division also manages Australia’s international forestry obligations and interests, including supporting the purchase and sale of legally harvested timber, and develops policies and programmes on the sustainable management and use of Australia’s forests.

Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) is the department’s research arm. It provides professionally independent research, analysis, commodity forecasting and data across the fields of economics, science and social science. ABARES shares its outputs and findings with government agencies, industry, research bodies and other relevant groups for the benefit of the Australian community. ABARES also manages the department’s regulatory reform activities, as part of the government’s deregulation agenda.

Agricultural Policy Division

The Agricultural Policy Division develops and implements policies to make Australia’s agricultural and food industries more globally competitive and profitable. The division is responsible for specific industry sectors, such as crops, wine, horticulture, wool, meat and dairy. It is also responsible for food policy and regulation, and the rural research and development system. The division works collaboratively with industry, portfolio agencies, governments and the community on activities to enhance industry development and to reduce market impediments.

Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer

The Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer (ACPPO) and department Chief Scientist works with the Biosecurity Plant Division to enhance and drive opportunities for the Australian economy and Australia’s plant-dependent industries through improved market access. The ACPPO also promotes a shared vision for plant health in Australia to protect our valuable plant resources, and represents the Australian Government on plant health issues of international and national interest.

Australian Chief Veterinary Officer

The Australian Chief Veterinary Officer (ACVO) provides leadership and is the strategic focal point for international and national biosecurity policies and strategies relevant to animal health and welfare, especially in the context of emergency management. The ACVO works with the department to enhance trade and market access for animals and animal products, and works with public health, environmental and veterinary experts to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

Biosecurity Animal Division

The Biosecurity Animal Division works to maintain and enhance trade and market access for animals and animal products. The division undertakes risk analyses for animals and animal products (terrestrial, aquatic and avian) and assesses applications for the import of live animals, biological materials and animal genetic material. The division also provides policy and technical advice on marine pest biosecurity. It works with industries, governments and the community to strengthen Australia’s animal disease prevention, preparedness and response capabilities, as well as providing leadership and strategic direction on domestic and international animal health issues.

Biosecurity Plant Division

The Biosecurity Plant Division works to maintain and enhance trade and market access for plants and plant products. The division provides direct input into inspection and certification requirements for plant imports and exports to ensure international standards are met. It works collaboratively with industries, governments and the community to strengthen Australia’s plant pest and disease prevention, preparedness and response capabilities, and provides leadership and strategic direction on domestic and international plant health issues.

Compliance Division

The Compliance Division manages the service delivery for the biosecurity clearance of cargo, shipping, mail, vessels and passengers—including setting policy and standards—and administers quarantine third-party arrangements in Australia and internationally. The division works with the Australian, state and territory governments, industries and the community to manage Australia’s national biosecurity system to minimise the threat of the introduction of exotic pests and disease.

Exports Division

The Exports Division provides technical expertise for negotitions with trading partners on arrangements to open, improve or maintain international market access for a range of food, animal by-products, live animals and reproductive material. It also manages the export systems for these commodities. The division contains the National Residue Survey and the Codex Contact Point.

Finance and Business Support Division

The Finance and Business Support Division provides financial and management advice to the department, the offices of the minister and parliamentary secretary and to industry bodies. Key financial responsibilities include modernising financial services and systems, accounts transaction management, cost-recovery and budget management. It is also responsible for administering Commonwealth statutory levies on rural commodities. The division’s business obligations include ensuring the financial sustainability of the department, providing procurement, property management and contracting services, strategic planning and reporting, risk management, business continuity planning, and business support services.

Governance Branch

The Governance Branch works across the portfolio and with stakeholders to foster a coordinated approach to portfolio priorities and to support the department’s work. It provides coordination, advice and support services to the minister and parliamentary secretary and their offices, the executive and divisions. The branch’s work includes parliamentary business, ministerial and executive support, media, anti-fraud and corruption activities, agency security, portfolio-related government appointments, enterprise-wide business assurance and other portfolio coordination functions.

Information Services Division

The Information Services Division is responsible for all information and communication technology (ICT) functions and activities within the department. It provides ICT applications support and development capability for all divisions and develops and maintains ICT strategic planning, enterprise architecture and information management to support the department’s objectives.

Office of the General Counsel

The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) is responsible for the provision of all legal services and advice required by the department. The OGC provides independent legal advice to the executive and assists with the oversight and risk management of sensitive legal issues. It also provides a coordination point for legal advice (subject to the Legal Services Directions on tied work), legislative development and coordination, freedom of information requests, privacy advice and claims resolution. The OGC works with divisions to deliver timely, accurate and appropriate advice and effectively manages external legal providers.

Post-entry Quarantine Build Taskforce

The Post-entry Quarantine Build Taskforce oversees the planning for, construction of and transition from four existing post-entry quarantine facilities into a new, single consolidated facility. The existing but ageing post-entry quarantine facilities will be progressively decommissioned between 2015 and 2018. The new government-owned and operated site, to commence operations in late 2015, is located at Mickleham in Victoria.

Service Delivery Division

The Service Delivery Division strengthens the focus on investing in our people and reforming our business. It brings together people capability and management, communication and change management, biosecurity reform, regional management, and programme and project management functions. The division oversees the delivery of services through the department’s regional network.

Sustainability and Biosecurity Policy Division

The Sustainability and Biosecurity Policy Division works to strengthen the capacity of Australian primary producers and other land managers to use and manage natural resources sustainably and to improve the national approach to weeds management. It provides policy advice and manages programmes aimed at promoting sustainable agricultural, fishery and aquaculture sectors, and improving access to safe agricultural and veterinary chemicals. The division works with industries, ​governments and the community to ensure the development and implementation of a risk-based approach to managing biosecurity issues and to prepare for, and support the management of, exotic pest and disease incursions.

Trade and Market Access Division

The Trade and Market Access Division pursues international market access for agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries through bilateral, regional and multilateral engagement. It represents Australia’s agricultural interests in international forums and works to ensure Australia’s agricultural policies and settings meet international obligations. The division, in collaboration with technical and policy areas of the department, works with international business, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, other agencies, states and territories and industry bodies. It also supports the department’s network of specialists posted overseas to develop and maintain markets for Australia’s agricultural exports and strengthen relationships with trading partners.

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Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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