6 October 2016
The National Biosecurity Committee (NBC) met on 6 October 2016. This meeting provided an opportunity to agree the Committee’s 2016-17 workplan (which has subsequently been endorsed by the Agriculture Senior Officials’ Committee).
The Committee congratulated relevant individuals, committees and jurisdictions who contributed to the following improvements to the national biosecurity system:
- finalising the National Bovine Johne’s Disease management framework by the Animal Health Committee
- identification and release of the National Priority Plant Pests by the Plant Health Committee
- finalising the revised Aquavetplan Disease Strategy Manual for whirling disease by the Sub-committee of Aquatic Animal Health
- endorsement of the National Framework for the Management of Established Pests and Disease of National Significance
- recent assessment by the World Organisation for Animal Health on the performance of veterinary services in Australia, which confirmed the world class reputation of Australia’s veterinarian services.
The Committee thanked Mr Will Zacharin, South Australia, for chairing the Invasive Plant and Animal Committee (IPAC) over the past two years and driving projects to minimise the impact of these pests on agricultural production and native ecosystems. The Committee welcomed Dr Bruce Christie as the new chair of IPAC from December 2016.
The Committee considered a number of national priorities including:
Stakeholder engagement is critical to the success of Australia’s biosecurity system and the Committee agreed that all jurisdictions would hold regional biosecurity roundtables during 2017, building on stakeholder feedback provided this year. This year was the first year of a regional format for the delivery of biosecurity roundtables and there was an overwhelmingly positive response from attendees. Common themes raised during the regional roundtables included: shared responsibility, on-farm biosecurity, community awareness and surveillance capacity.
The Committee is also using the feedback received through the roundtables to see what jurisdictions can do as a collective to improve national communication and engagement activities to ensure Australia maintains its favourable pest and disease status and address biosecurity issues.
Research, development and extension
The Committee provides national leadership for researchers and funding bodies to improve targeting of biosecurity research and development priorities. The Committee discussed future and emerging priorities that are likely to require additional research, development and extension. Immediate priorities include:
- improving technologies for surveillance, diagnostics and control
- smarter intelligence, modelling and forecasting
- better understanding of social attitudes and behaviours.
To develop and promote a concise and targeted list of biosecurity research priorities, the Committee agreed that jurisdictions will work together to identify short, medium and long-term research priorities for both fundamental and applied research and development and engage with the research community to progress these priorities.
Emergency Aquatic Animal Disease Arrangements
The Committee received an update on the progress being made to develop an emergency aquatic animal disease response arrangement. This project is being managed by Animal Health Australia. Significant effort is being put into the development of these response arrangements by both the aquatic animal industry and governments. The Committee considered and discussed apportioning cost-sharing for an aquatic animal disease response and how recreational fisheries might be addressed under the arrangements. The Committee confirmed its support for this project as it will address a gap in the current response arrangements and ensure that governments and industry are best positioned to respond to aquatic animal diseases.
The review of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity
The Committee met with the panel undertaking the review of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity (IGAB). The independent panel, comprises Dr Wendy Craik AM (chair), Mr David Palmer and Dr Richard Sheldrake AM. The panel has been engaging with stakeholders across Australia to get feedback about the national biosecurity system and the IGAB, what works, what doesn’t, what could be done better and how to continue strengthening partnerships across the system. The panel provided an update on the review’s progress and shared their views about possible improvements to the IGAB. The outcomes of the IGAB review will shape the Committee’s workplan in the future.
The National Biosecurity Committee is responsible for managing a national, strategic approach to biosecurity threats relating to plant and animal pests and diseases, marine and aquatic pests, and the impact of these on agricultural production, the environment, community wellbeing and social amenity. The committee provides advice to the Agriculture Senior Officials Committee and the Agriculture Ministers’ Forum on national biosecurity issues, and on progress in implementing the Intergovernmental Agreement on biosecurity.
For further information about the National Biosecurity Committee, you can visit the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.