Biosecurity has played a critical role in reducing risk and shaping our nation to become one of the few countries in the world to remain free from the world’s most invasive pests and diseases.
While our status as an island nation has been a key factor in maintaining this position a number of factors, including growth in trade volumes are putting pressure on the system.
Australia has over 60 000 kilometres of coastline offering a variety of pathways for exotic pests, weeds and diseases to enter the country. The department screens, inspects and clears millions of mail parcels, cargo containers, plants and animals, and of course people are no exception. Using x–ray machines, pre- and post-entry quarantine and surveillance programs and detector dogs, our border security is our first line of defence for protecting our environment and social amenity.
To protect Australia, we must apply biosecurity measures offshore, at the border and onshore. Investing in research and new ways of understanding and detecting risks, sharing international resources and intelligence, and continually reviewing our risk settings helps prevent the introduction, establishment and spread of pests, weeds and diseases in Australia. The use of surveillance and monitoring of the highest risk areas is critical along with border control activities, which focus on managing potential biosecurity threats at airports, seaports and mail centres.
Our biosecurity system protects agriculture, forestry and fisheries export industries worth $51 billion; a tourism sector worth $50 billion; environmental assets worth more than $5.7 trillion; and more than 1.6 million jobs. All this, which provides us with the way of life we value so much, will be at risk if we fail to maintain a strong focus on biosecurity and managing potential threats. Not only do we depend on a healthy environment for fresh water, fresh food and a prosperous society, but it also allows us to protect the culture and values of our wider community and First Nations people.