Queensland Biosecurity Roundtable – 11 October 2018

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Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, December 2018

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The 2018 Queensland Biosecurity Roundtable was held in Brisbane on 11 October 2018.

What we heard from participants

  • Importance of maintaining collaborative partnerships with stakeholder groups
  • The need to clarify roles and responsibilities within the biosecurity emergency response space
  • There needs to be a greater investment in on-farm biosecurity
  • There is an underutilisation of industry, community, environmental and research groups within the biosecurity system, including preparedness and response.

The event was hosted by the National Biosecurity Committee together with the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

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The 2018 Biosecurity Roundtable Program

The Biosecurity Roundtable Program consists of seven biosecurity roundtables in each state and territory (NSW and ACT are combined), two environmental biosecurity roundtables and a National Biosecurity Forum at the end of the year.

These events are an opportunity for biosecurity stakeholders to talk about biosecurity issues directly with Australian and state/territory government representatives, a wide range of industry members and producers together with environmental and community groups.

This year the theme for the program is ‘preparedness and response’, with activities on the day designed to seek input on:

  • preparedness and response arrangements across a range of biosecurity activities
  • gaps and possible solutions
  • roles and responsibilities in preparedness and response
  • successes and lessons learned
  • trusted sources of information on biosecurity.

Presentations

Leisa Prowse, facilitator, opened the roundtable and outlined the agenda for the day.

Commonwealth update

Josephine Laduzko, A/g First Assistant Secretary, Biosecurity Policy and Implementation Division, Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources delivered the Commonwealth update, outlining that 2018 represents 110 years since the introduction of the original Quarantine Act 1908 (Cth) and is an opportune time to reflect on our many successes.

However, as highlighted in the 2017 Priorities for Australia’s Biosecurity system review report (review report), she emphasised that Australia cannot continue to do tomorrow what is being done today. As trade and international arrivals increase, biosecurity threats are also increasing through consequential or deliberate attempts to bypass biosecurity screening.

As part of the ongoing response to the review report, $313 million funding is now in place to help develop Australia’s capacity, adopt new detection technologies and foster a strong focus on innovation, analytics and intelligence. It will also help finalise the emergency response deeds for aquatic animals and exotic production weeds and complete the development of a national priority list of exotic environmental pests and diseases.

Ms Laduzko advised of the department’s inaugural appointment of Ian Thompson as Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer. The role comes with administered funding of $825,000 and Mr Thompson will be working on how to best leverage this funding to enhance our ability and capacity to handle environmental biosecurity responses. This will involve strengthening engagement with community and environmental groups and working closely with the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy.

Queensland update

Malcolm Letts, Chief Biosecurity Officer, Biosecurity Queensland, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, raised that Queensland’s 2015 Biosecurity Capability Review (capability review) and the review report highlighted that biosecurity risks are increasing in number, scope and complexity.

The capability review included 32 recommendations which are currently being implemented, with the Queensland Government providing funding to implement nine new programs which address the majority of those recommendations. The first recommendation of the capability review has been implemented with the release of the Queensland Biosecurity Strategy, which was co-developed by over 30 peak agriculture and land management groups.

He also spoke about how the Queensland Government has worked with the Australian Banana Growers Council to develop an interstate market access protocol for bananas sent from a property identified with Panama tropical race 4 disease. The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has also worked with the Nursery and Garden Industry who have developed the BioSecure Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points program, which is a comprehensive on-farm biosecurity program for the nursery industry and the first ever approved third-party biosecurity scheme under the Biosecurity Act 2014 (Qld).

Mr Letts provided an overview of the current biosecurity responses the Queensland Government is managing, which includes seven major responses and a significant number of smaller responses. In north Queensland these are Electrical ants, Panama disease tropical race 4, Varroa mite and four tropical weeds. In central Queensland Red witchweed and in south east Queensland Red imported fire ants and White spot disease in prawns.

National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program

John Jordan, General Manager, National Red Imported Fire Ant and Electric Ant Eradication Programs, Biosecurity Queensland, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, provided an overview of the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program (the program).

The program is a nationally funded effort and is the largest eradication program ever undertaken in Australia. The program in south east Queensland is now in its second year of the $411.4 million 10 year eradication program. Its strategy is to reduce the size of the infestation in a staged, rolling treatment plan starting from the west and progressively moving to the east.

Mr Jordan presented a map of outstanding direct nest injection sites, advising that surveillance is undertaken around new detections that receive responsive treatment, as well as an overview of significant detection in 2017-18.

He provided a review of 2017-18 eradication treatment, advising that significant scaling up achieved good but not perfect results. There was successful delivery of two rounds of insect growth regulator bait to the western region, with early signs showing the combination of aerial baiting and direct nest injection is impacting ants. ‘Growing pains’ are being managed as systems, logistics and people adapt to the challenge of large scale complex eradication. A total of 5,674 public reports of suspected Red imported fire ants in 2017-18 resulted in 3,260 samples of ants received for scientific diagnosis.

Mr Jordan advised that everyone has a responsibility to protect Australia from the threat of Red imported fire ants and the program will explore the potential for residents and industry to report and self-treat. There remains a need to address human-assisted spread and build capacity through research and technology such as remote sensing for broad scale surveillance.

Exercise Border Bridge

Chris Lavin, Biosecurity Emergency Operations Manager, Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, provided an overview of Exercise Border Bridge, which was held in March 2018 and designed to test how New South Wales and Queensland Governments responded to a biosecurity emergency affecting both states. The aim of the exercise was to improve the capability of governments in responding to a nationally significant cross border biosecurity emergency and strengthening partnerships with biosecurity stakeholders.

Mr Lavin outlined that as part of the exercise a communication and engagement working group was established with 31 internal and external representatives who observed the exercise and involvement of the National Biosecurity Communication and Engagement Network. To support the exercise 165 internal, external and international stakeholders were informed, a fact sheet was developed and the Operation Border Bridge website was viewed 1,879 times.

The exercise evaluation was undertake in June 2018, for more information a joint exercise report is available on the Department of Primary Industries website

How do the emergency response deeds work?

Kate Fitzpatrick, Assistant Director, Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, provided an overview of Australia’s national emergency response deeds and agreements, which include the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement, the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed and the National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement. She explained the purpose of the deeds, the triggers and decision making processes and the ability for industries to access response funds under the deeds and reimburse the Australian Government through levies over time.

The deeds were developed as a pre-agreed framework to facilitate fast decision making in response to an emergency pest or disease outbreak. They provide certainty to affected farmers, industries and jurisdictions that when certain conditions are met, there will be resources available to appropriately and rapidly respond. Ms Fitzpatrick advised the emergency response deeds are founded on the principles that a response is in the national interest, technically feasible and is cost beneficial to eradicate, and the beneficiaries of a response are involved in both the decision making process and in funding response activities.

Attendees were also informed that the department is currently leading development of an Exotic Production Weed Deed and Aquatic Animal Disease Deed.

Workshops

National Biosecurity Statement

Mr Letts introduced the National Biosecurity Statement (NBS), which is being developed with industry, environmental and community groups and the public. Mr Letts stated that the NBS was intended to foster community-wide understanding and ownership of Australia’s biosecurity system, providing a common understanding, shared goals, principles, roles and responsibilities, and accountability.

Leisa Prowse, facilitator, then led table based exercises on the roles and responsibilities component of the NBS. She asked participants to discuss their roles in the biosecurity system and in improving its efficiency, the concept of stewardship, the roles and responsibilities of major institutions, the benefits of an agreed set of roles and responsibilities for system participants and how we can measure if they are meeting these obligations.

Feedback on the draft NBS was constructive on the day, with specific suggestions received regarding the language and structure of the statement in order to make it more accessible for a broad audience. Suggestions were made that the NBS be published in multiple forms to maximise its impact for a number of audiences. Common themes that were also discussed included the importance of maintaining collaborative partnerships with stakeholder groups; improving the sharing of information; providing clarity on roles and responsibilities; and reducing gaps and duplication.

The public consultation period for the NBS closed on 31 October 2018 and the final NBS was presented to stakeholders at the 2018 National Biosecurity Forum on 29 November 2018.

Preparedness and response

Ms Prowse ran this workshop which set out to discuss, share and analyse preparedness and response knowledge across the biosecurity space.

The discussions and notes from the workshop are expected to assist in the development of policy and resources, improve the understanding of other sectors’ roles and support the maturity of the response to the public consultation around the NBS.

Each of the 11 tables were given topics—anticipate, prevent, prepare, detect, respond and recover/adapt—and asked to discuss and note on worksheets the activities, roles and processes currently in place relating to their topic as well as emerging issues.

They were then asked to identify six key activities, plans or policies to report back on to the room and add to a wall chart. This provided a quick and visually striking representation of role and responsibility allocation on the day.

The figure below shows a breakdown by topic and responsible sector of all the activities, plans or policies that participants noted from both the wall chart and the worksheets. In some cases, the same point repeats across sectors as the responsibility was seen as shared. If no activities, plans or policies were recorded for a sector, it is shown as blank.

As the responses to this exercise are affected by the table groups, and who was present at the meeting, this is not a representative snapshot of biosecurity knowledge in Queensland.

It does however show that participants see the state government as overwhelmingly responsible for a broad range of biosecurity activities.

Community, environmental and research groups appear to be either underutilised or under-represented as active system participants. Alternatively, the roles of these groups were poorly understood or recognised by those in the room. Commercial operators, though potential risk generators were rarely identified as playing any role in the biosecurity system.

Panel: Questions and Answers

A panel of five representatives from Australian and Queensland governments, industry and the environment sectors introduced themselves and advised of their current roles:

  • Josephine Laduzko, A/g First Assistant Secretary, Biosecurity Policy and Implementation Division, Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. Ms Laduzko manages a range of functions within the biosecurity policy and response space.
  • Malcolm Letts, A/g Chief Biosecurity Officer, Biosecurity Queensland, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Mr Letts handles biosecurity and animal welfare.
  • Michelle McKinlay, Strategy Manager, Australian Banana Growers’ Council. Ms McKinlay has been involved with the Panama Tropical Race 4 response.
  • Rachel MacKenzie, Chief Advocate, Growcom. Ms MacKenzie is responsible for developing policy and advocating on behalf of Queensland fruit, vegetable and nut growers.
  • Andrew Maclean, Chief Executive Officer, Southern Gulf National Resource Management (NRM). Mr Maclean will be managing the Mount Isa NRM going forward. The NRM aims to provide regional leadership and resources and coordinate activities.

The panel session was then opened to questions and comments from the floor. There were discussions regarding the plant, animal and environmental emergency response deeds and agreements, including intent, roles and responsibilities. A question was raised around response times for handling incursions, in particular that industry has 24 hours to report an incursion or potential incursion, while timeframes for the government to respond are unclear. Mr Letts advised that the government does have a sense of urgency when undertaking steps following a notification, and Ms Laduzko stated that a decision must be made quickly as to whether it is a national or state response. A further question posed what can be done if a response plan was agreed by a peak body but local producers want to do something else. Mr Letts advised that the deeds are binding and Ms MacKenzie raised that deeds require a majority support from members of an industry body before it can sign up. 

The panel was asked why Australian flower farmers don’t get paid as beneficiaries in an outbreak, particularly given that importers are the risk creators. Ms Laduzko advised that for import transactions there is a government cost recovery system. She also advised that the upcoming biosecurity imports levy will be applied to risk creators, however, it will not include air freight at this stage. Ms MacKenzie raised the question of who the risk creator would be if a person illegally imported pineapples from Malaysia, which resulted in a bacterial fruit collapse. Dean Merrilees, Compliance Controls Branch, Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, advised from the floor that generally government and beneficiaries contribute financially due to the inability to link incidents to specific individuals or groups. Ms MacKenzie advised that growers and producers don’t think about biosecurity in the same way as government and that there is confusion with their role as both a risk creator and a beneficiary. She raised that there needs to be an investment in on-farm biosecurity as a matter of urgency.

Mr Maclean was asked how NRMs could be more involved in biosecurity preparedness and response. He advised that priorities vary from region to region so there is no one size fits all approach. However, there could be a role for the NRM’s in preparedness and response as they have people on the ground level who can manage relationships with producers, mobilise communities and encourage and support people. Mr Letts raised that he is keen for better alignment between the work of NRMs and Queensland Government. The inaugural Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer, Mr Ian Thompson, raised from the floor NRMs could play a greater role in working with the community and there are real opportunities to make more space for them in the future. NRMs are good at undertaking surveillance and working together. Pests are a cross-over between environmental and agricultural biosecurity and more could be done in regards to surveillance.

Closing remarks

Mr Letts thanked attendees for their contribution and advised that we all have a responsibility to make sure we think about inter connectedness and inter-operability of resources, in order to achieve good outcomes. 

Ms Laduzko closed the roundtable, thanking the attendees for their time, engagement and ideas on behalf of Biosecurity Queensland and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Biosecurity Information Survey

Thank you to participants who completed the biosecurity information survey.

Initial analysis of the completed surveys highlighted the primary role of state government (18 per cent), local government (13.5 per cent) and industry groups or associations (13.5 per cent) as sources of biosecurity information.

The results highlight that 26.5 per cent of respondents’ access information face to face or by phone, 25.5 per cent via emails or newsletters, and 19 per cent via seminars or meetings.

Full results were reported at the National Biosecurity Forum on 29 November 2018.

The survey is available for organisations or industry bodies to run with their own members – please contact the Biosecurity Roundtable Secretariat and we will email templates to you Biosecurity roundtable or phone 1800 068 468.

Representation

There were 224 invitations sent out to organisations, groups or individuals (excluding state and Commonwealth government staff). From this, 60 people attended (bold) in total, with 39 organisations excluding government representing a wide cross section including:

  • A1 Aquarium World
  • ABARES
  • Advance Queensland
  • AgForce
  • Agri-Business Development Institute
  • Agri-Science Queensland
  • Airports Council International Asia Pacific
  • Animal Health Australia
  • Aquatic Biosecurity
  • AquaVerde
  • Austock Rural
  • Australian Agricultural and Environmental Solutions
  • Australian Agricultural Company (AACo)
  • Australian Banana Growers' Council Inc
  • Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association
  • Australian Honey Bee Industry Council
  • Australian Horticultural Exporters' Association
  • Australian Livestock & Property Agents Association Ltd
  • Australian Lychee Growers Association
  • Australian Mango Industry Association
  • Australian Melon Association Inc
  • Australian National Retailers Association
  • Australian Nurseymen's Fruit Improvement Company
  • Australian Persimmon Export Company
  • Australian Pork Limited
  • Australian Prawn Farmers Association
  • Australian Recreational Fishers Foundation
  • Australian Society of Agronomy
  • Australian Sugar Milling Council
  • Australian Veterinary Association
  • Australian Veterinary Association - Queensland
  • Avocados Australia Ltd
  • Bawden's Cockatoo Chaos
  • Biosecurity Queensland
  • Biosecurity Queensland Ministerial Advisory Council
  • Blue Ribbon Seeds Pty Ltd
  • BQMAC/ ARAZPA
  • BQMAC/ LGAQ
  • BQMAC/ NLIS, Cattle Advisory Committee /AHA
  • BQMAC/ RSPCA
  • BQMAC/ Sugar Research Australia
  • Brisbane Airport Corporation
  • Brisbane City Council
  • BSES Ltd
  • Burnett Mary Regional Group
  • Cairns Marine
  • Canegrowers Australia
  • Cape York NRM
  • Centre for Invasive Species Solutions
  • Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis / The University of Melbourne
  • Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions
  • Citrus Australia
  • Condamine Alliance Group
  • Conservation Farmers Inc
  • Cotton Australia
  • CSIRO
  • Deakin University
  • Department of Agriculture and Fisheries - Queensland
  • Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
  • Department of Environment & Heritage Protection (DEHP)
  • Department of Environment and Heritage Protection - Queensland
  • Department of Environment and Science
  • Department of Health Queensland
  • Department of Natural Resources and Mines - Queensland
  • Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM)
  • Department of Premier and Cabinet
  • Department of Primary Industries NSW
  • Dept of Defence
  • Dept of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR)
  • Desert Channels Queensland
  • Doboy Cold Store
  • Dreamworld
  • Energy Qld
  • Environmental Defenders Office QLD
  • Ergon Energy
  • Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils
  • Fishchick Aquatics
  • Fitzroy Basin Association
  • Flower Association of QLD
  • Gelita Australia
  • Gladstone Ports Corporation
  • Glanville, Ron
  • Goat Veterinary Consultancies
  • Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
  • Griffith University
  • Growcom
  • Hands On Wildlife
  • Health Security Advisory Service
  • Hort Innovation
  • HQPlantations
  • Impact Innovation Group
  • Invasive Species Council
  • Ironbark Citrus and Grapes
  • James Cook University
  • James Cook University
  • Kantar Public
  • KPMG
  • Landcare Australia
  • Lembiru
  • Lemon Myrtle Farms
  • Livestock Biosecurity Network
  • Livestock Biosecurity Network - Southern Queensland
  • Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ)
  • Manbullo Limited
  • Meat & Livestock Australia
  • National Parks Association of Queensland
  • North Queensland Bulk Ports
  • North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation Limited
  • North Queensland Dry Tropics
  • Northern Gulf Resource Management Group
  • Northern Prawn Fishery Industry
  • NRM Regions Queensland
  • Nursery & Garden Industry Queensland
  • Nursery and Garden Industry Australia
  • Office of the Minister for Agricultural Industry Development & Fisheries
  • Passionfruit Australia
  • Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre
  • Plant Health Australia
  • Plant Health CRC
  • Pork Queensland Inc
  • Port of Brisbane Pty Ltd
  • Powerlink
  • Premier Pet - Bay Fish
  • Primary Industries Centre for Science Education
  • Public Service Commission
  • Queensland Beekeeper's Association Inc.
  • Queensland Beekeeping Association
  • Queensland Cane Growers Organisation
  • Queensland Conservation Council
  • Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation
  • Queensland Department of Primary Industries - Queensland
  • Queensland Farmers Federation
  • Queensland Federation of Aquarium Societies (QFAS)
  • Queensland Gas Company
  • Queensland Herbarium
  • Queensland Livestock Exporters Association
  • Queensland Murray Darling Committee
  • Queensland Olive Council
  • Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS)
  • Queensland Ports Association and Ports Australia
  • Queensland Rail (QR)
  • Queensland Seafood Industry Association
  • Queensland Tourism Industry Council Ltd
  • Queensland Transport and Logistics Council
  • Queensland Treasury
  • Queensland University of Technology
  • Reef Catchments Mackay Whitsunday Inc
  • RMIT
  • Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland
  • RSPCA Queensland
  • Safe Food Production Queensland
  • Seafood Importers Association of Australasia
  • Sirromet Wines
  • South East Queensland Catchments
  • Southern Cross Cargo Pty Ltd
  • Southern Gulf NRM
  • Stock Air
  • Strawberries Australia
  • Sugar Research Australia
  • SunWater
  • Terrain NRM
  • Teys Australia Pty Ltd
  • Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA)
  • Tropical Pines
  • Turf Producers Australia
  • United Organics
  • University of New England
  • University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science
  • University of Southern Queensland
  • Weed Society of Queensland
  • Weedspotters
  • Wet Tropics Management Authority
  • Wide Bay Burnett Regional Organisation of Councils
  • Wildlife Health Australia
  • Wildlife Preservation Queensland

Queensland biosecurity roundtable agenda

Schedule Topic Presenter
9:00-9:05am Item 1
Welcome
Facilitator/Host – Leisa Prowse
9:05-9:30 Item 2
Commonwealth update
Josephine Laduzko, A/g First Assistant Secretary, Biosecurity Policy & Implementation, Department of Agriculture & Water Resources
9:30-10:10 Item 3
Queensland State Update
Malcolm Letts, Chief Biosecurity Officer and John Jordan, General Manager, National Red Imported Fire Ant and Electric Ant Eradication Programs, Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
10:10-10:40 Item 4
Update and Workshop One: National Biosecurity Statement and Roles and Responsibilities
Malcolm Letts and Facilitator – Leisa Prowse
10:40-10:55 Item 5: Morning tea
10:55 -12:35pm Item 6
Workshop Two:
Topic: Preparedness and Response
Table based exercises 
Facilitator – Leisa Prowse
12:35 – 1:00 Item 7
Presentation
Exercise BorderBridge 
Chris Lavin,  Manager Biosecurity Emergency Operations, Biosecurity Queensland
1:00-1:45 Item 8: Lunch
1:45-2:15 Item 9
How do the emergency response deeds work?
Kate Fitzpatrick, National Response Policy section, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
2:15-3:45 Item 10
Panel: Roles & responsibilities
• Introduction to panel & outcomes
• Commonwealth role in preparedness/ response
• State role in preparedness/ response
• Industry org role in preparedness/ response
• Environmental org role in preparedness/ response
• Questions to panel
Facilitator: Leisa Prowse
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources representative
Biosecurity Qld representative
Michelle McKinlay, Industry Strategy Manager, Australian Banana Growers Council and Rachel MacKenzie, Chief Executive Officer, Growcom
Andrew Drysdale, Chief Executive Officer, NRM Regions Queensland
3:45-4:00 Item 11
Closing remarks
State representative and Josephine Laduzko, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources representative
4:00-4:30pm Item 12
Afternoon tea

2018 Biosecurity Roundtable Program Calendar

Date Event Location
11 April 2018 South Australia Biosecurity Roundtable Adelaide
3 May 2018 Environmental Biosecurity Roundtable 1 Canberra
7 June 2018 Tasmania Biosecurity Roundtable Hobart
4 July 2018 Western Australia Biosecurity Roundtable Perth
2 August 2018 Victoria Biosecurity Roundtable Melbourne
30 August 2018 New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory Biosecurity Roundtable Sydney
26 September 2018 Northern Territory Biosecurity Roundtable Darwin
9 October 2018 Environmental Biosecurity Roundtable 2 Brisbane
11 October 2018 Queensland Biosecurity Roundtable Brisbane
29 November 2018 National Biosecurity Forum Canberra

Next steps...

The Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries would like to thank everyone who participated in the QLD Biosecurity Roundtable for their time and contributions. The discussions and ideas from the Roundtable fed into the agenda for the National Biosecurity Forum and other biosecurity governance and communication processes through the NBC and other avenues.

We value your feedback – if you have suggestions about this roundtable or the roundtable program please contact us at Biosecurity Roundtable.

Phone 1800 068 468
agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity/partnerships/nbc/biosecurity-roundtable
Facebook: Australian biosecurity
Twitter: @DeptAgNews
Subscribe to Biosecurity Matters, a bi-monthly online newsletter providing readers with a greater understanding of the department's work in managing biosecurity risks overseas, at the border and within Australia.​

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Last reviewed: 30 September 2020
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