CSIRO confirms biosecurity a top priority for Australia

NSW Farmers is concerned by CSIRO findings that billion dollar industries like agriculture are at risk from biosecurity threats. 

A report released today at the Australian Biosecurity 2030 Workshop showed that Australia is at risk of increased disease outbreaks and pest incursions, weakened exports, and damage to our global trade reputation. 

NSW Farmers President James Jackson said the findings are troubling but not surprising, and reflect the farming industry’s long-held concerns about the capacity of the current biosecurity system to respond to emerging risks. 

“Australia has one of the strongest biosecurity systems in the world, but we can’t take this for granted as threats continue to evolve," Mr Jackson said. 

“We live in an increasingly connected world, and even though human travel has diminished over COVID-19, our import volumes remain high and there has been an unprecedented number of parcels entering Australia."

“We must be vigilant to ongoing threats such as African swine fever (ASF), which has been keeping mail centres on high alert."

“Between January and April this year, more than 600 parcels intercepted at our border contained meat products, which are a key pathway for ASF."

“It’s disappointing to see investment in biosecurity plateau, especially against the backdrop of COVID-19 and the widespread economic devastation it has caused."

“Plans for an Onshore Biosecurity Levy were ditched by the Commonwealth earlier in the year, and no new biosecurity funding commitments were made in this year’s Federal Budget.”

“Without an appropriate funding model, pests like khapra beetles and fire ants will continue to pose a threat to our farms.”

Mr Jackson welcomed the recommendations of the report released today, which focus on system connectivity, shared responsibility, and science and technology. 

 “There’s significant potential to increase data sharing between human, agriculture and environmental sectors. Streamlining agricultural traceability systems is already an industry priority."

“We also support the concept of biosecurity as a shared responsibility. We believe that supply chain participants who create biosecurity risks should invest in prevention and management of those risks."
“Increasingly, improving our own biosecurity means investing overseas to mitigate biosecurity threats where they arise."

“Our world-class traceability systems and our ability to remain relatively disease free have been crucial to the success of our export commodities. But there is always more work to be done and the CSIRO report confirms that,” Mr Jackson concluded. 

Date: Wednesday, 4 November 2020
Media Contact:  Michael Burt  | 0428 228 988 | burtm@nswfarmers.org.au