The plant biosecurity system works under the controls of Commonwealth and state legislation. A national approach to the management of plant biosecurity in Australia is maintained through the national committees framework and PHA membership.
Under the Australian Constitution, state and territory governments are responsible for plant biosecurity services within their respective borders, provided by agriculture or primary industry departments.
Australia’s approach to managing the risk of incursions of exotic pests is multi-layered, involving complementary measures applied along the biosecurity continuum: pre-border, at the border and post-border.
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ core priorities in managing biosecurity are to:
- Effectively identify risks and target resources to the areas of greatest return from a risk management perspective.
- Partner with other governments, industry, clients and stakeholders to manage Australia’s biosecurity.
- Deliver biosecurity services to support access to overseas markets and protect the economy and the environment from the impacts of unwanted pests.
- Support Australia’s reputation as a competitive exporter of agricultural goods and products.
Pre-border activities seek to prevent biosecurity risks reaching Australia by understanding global risks, working with international trading partners and the private sector, and informing travellers about Australia’s biosecurity requirements. Specific activities include cooperation in multilateral forums, import risk analyses, collaborative plant health surveys in partnership with Australia’s nearest neighbours, and capacity development audit activities, all aimed at managing plant health risks prior to reaching Australia.
Border activities seek to intercept biosecurity risks at airports, seaports, mail centres and along Australia’s coastline. Border activities include import permit requirements, inspection of passengers, goods, vessels and mail, audit activities, monitoring and surveillance activities for exotic animal and plant pests, and post-entry quarantine. Rather than being based on state and territory boundaries, these activities are carried out in five consolidated regions.
Post-border, DAWR works cooperatively with other Australian Government agencies, state and territory governments and industry partners to detect and respond to plant pest emergencies that may adversely impact on Australia’s agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries and the environment. Examples of post-border activities include national policy development, enhancing surveillance and diagnostic capability, and facilitating emergency preparedness and emergency responses. Formal national arrangements exist for managing responses to Emergency Plant Pests.
DAWR also pursues international market access for Australia’s industries and access to the Australian market for our trading partners through bilateral, regional and multilateral engagement. Priority is given to:
- Working to remove impediments to international trade.
- Progressing and resolving market access issues for portfolio industries.
- Facilitating targeted technical assistance and agricultural cooperation in support of portfolio interests.
- Assisting the development of international standards for portfolio products and industries.
The market access work of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is supported and enhanced by a network of agricultural counsellors located in China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, the Middle East, Thailand and the United States. At each stage of the continuum, success is dependent on partnerships between governments, industry and the community.
On 16 June 2016, the Quarantine Act 1908 was replaced by the Biosecurity Act 2015.
Lead agency: Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS) Directorate
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government manages plant biosecurity through the TAMS Directorate, together with the Environment and Planning Directorate (EPD). TAMS is responsible for the operational implementation of biosecurity initiatives and EPD is responsible for policy development.
Although the ACT does not have many plant production industries, the government is represented on national committees during plant pest emergency responses and participates in the development of associated national frameworks and strategies when it has the expertise to contribute.
Plant biosecurity activities in the ACT are underpinned by the Plant Diseases Act 2002, the Pest Plants and Animals Act 2005, the Magistrates Court (Plant Diseases Infringement Notices) Regulation 2005 and the Nature Conservation Act 2014.
Lead agency: Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI)
NSW DPI is the principal agency responsible for plant biosecurity in New South Wales, ensuring policies, management and procedures are in place to minimise the impact of existing, invasive and emergency pests. NSW DPI maintains rapid response mechanisms for pest incursions in order to protect trade and market access, agricultural resources, regional economies and the environment. The NSW Biosecurity Strategy defines how NSW DPI, in partnership with other government agencies, industry and the public, manages biosecurity risks to NSW.
Within NSW DPI, the Plant Biosecurity and Product Integrity Branch develops plant pest policy directions and has oversight of operational responses to Emergency Plant Pests in NSW. The group provides advice to, and participates actively in, national decision making forums for plant pests of national significance. Within NSW, investigations, diagnosis, surveillance and operational activities are implemented by the Plant Health Diagnostic Service at Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute, the Australian Scientific Collections Unit at Orange Agricultural Institute, the state wide network of compliance officers and the emergency management First Response Team. Close collaboration is established with entomology and plant pathology researchers and with the state-wide Local Land Services network.
Current legislation underpinning the NSW Government’s plant biosecurity activities, administered by NSW DPI, are the Plant Diseases Act 1924 No. 38 and the Plant Diseases Regulation 2008. In 2017 the NSW Plant Diseases Act 1924 will be rescinded and powers to respond to plant pests and diseases will be provided by the NSW Biosecurity Act which was passed by the NSW parliament in September 2015.
Lead agency: NT Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries (NT DPIF)
Plant biosecurity in the NT is managed by the Plant Biosecurity Branch, within NT DPIF’s Biosecurity and Animal Welfare Division. The Plant Biosecurity Branch is responsible for the development and implementation of plant biosecurity policies, programs and procedures aimed at maintaining NT’s freedom from plant pests that could adversely impact on trade, market access, public health and the environment.
The objectives of the Plant Biosecurity Branch include:
- Maintaining and improving the plant health status of the plant and plant product industries of NT.
- Ensuring that plant and plant products that enter NT comply with the Plant Health Act 2008 and Plant Health Regulations 2011.
- Minimise the risk of exotic pests entering NT through compliance and surveillance.
- Ensuring preparedness for effective emergency response mechanisms in the event of an Emergency Plant Pest (EPP) incursion.
- Facilitating interstate trade of plant and plant products through certification, inspection and the Interstate Certification Assurance program.
- Conducting active and passive pest surveillance to support market access nationally and within NT.
- Conducting active surveillance for the early detection for a range of EPPs.
- Preparing for effective emergency response mechanisms in the event of an EPP incursion.
- Developing, implementing and reviewing NT’s plant health policy and legislation.
The Plant Biosecurity Program is underpinned by the Plant Health Act 2008 and the Plant Health Regulations 2011. The Act and Regulations aim to minimise the risk of plant pests entering and establishing in the NT through movement and importation controls on plants and plant products. They also provide the powers to ensure appropriate action can be taken for the control of pests if an incursion were to occur.
Lead agency: Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF)
Within QDAF, Biosecurity Queensland is responsible for: developing policies, standards, delivery systems and services to reduce the risk of introduction of exotic plant pests; minimising the impacts of new plant pest incursions on Queensland’s plant industries, environment and communities; and preserving and expanding market access for Queensland’s plant based industries. The Plant Biosecurity and Product Integrity program, within Biosecurity Queensland, has responsibility for plant biosecurity, diagnostics and the implementation of programs for the detection, control and prevention of certain plant pests.
Agri-Science Queensland, a division of QDAF, undertakes research, development and extension on a wide range of plant pests in the cropping, horticultural and forestry industries. The group provides additional diagnostic capability, undertakes surveillance and develops integrated management packages to limit the impacts of pests within farming systems.
Queensland’s Biosecurity Act 2014 commenced on 1 July 2016.
Lead agency: Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA)
Biosecurity SA, a division within PIRSA, is responsible for the development and implementation of plant biosecurity policies, programs and procedures aimed at maintaining SA’s freedom from pests that could adversely impact trade, market access, public health, food safety, the rural economy and the environment.
Given SA’s freedom from fruit flies of economic significance, PIRSA has a strong focus on operations aimed at preventing their entry and establishment. These activities include a dedicated state wide fruit fly trapping grid, static quarantine stations and random roadblocks, targeted awareness and education campaigns, and specific measures to effectively respond to and eradicate any fruit flies detected.
The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) is the state government’s principal research institute and provides Biosecurity SA with plant diagnostic, pathology and entomology advice. SARDI also undertakes targeted research and development to reduce losses from plant disease across cereal, pulse, pasture, viticulture and horticulture industries. This includes delivery of plant health diagnostic services to growers, consultants, state and national plant biosecurity authorities. The group collaborates closely with breeding companies, pre-breeding programs and the private sector to develop disease resistant plant varieties.
Construction of the $3.8 million Sterile Insect Technology facility at Port Augusta commenced in 2015 and is due for completion in September 2016. The facility will produce a male-only strain of Queensland fruit fly and forms part of the National SITplus Consortium investment of $50 million over five years, with R&D focused on developing the flies, area wide management and release strategies, and smart technology.
Plant biosecurity programs in SA are underpinned by the Plant Health Act 2009 and Plant Health Regulations 2009. In addition, the Plant Quarantine Standard SA has been established under the Act to identify the relevant conditions of entry for fruit, vegetables, plants, plant products, machinery or equipment of biosecurity concern.
Lead agency: Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE)
The DPIPWE Biosecurity Tasmania Division manages biosecurity policy and programs for plant pests. Branches within this division are responsible for the development and implementation of policies on barrier control, surveillance and monitoring, risk analysis, EPP response and incursion management and plant biosecurity communications.
Central to biosecurity emergency preparedness in Tasmania is the Biosecurity Emergency Preparedness Program. This program features an all-hazard approach and all Biosecurity Emergency Response Team (BERT) members receive the same training regardless of whether they are from animal, plant, fisheries or other natural resources areas. At present BERT consists of over 100 registered volunteers. The Tasmanian Government’s Biosecurity Policy and the Tasmanian Biosecurity Strategy provide the state framework for all government biosecurity actions and decision making processes, including EPP responses.
Plant biosecurity in Tasmania is underpinned by the Plant Quarantine Act 1997. When needed, this is complemented by the Emergency Service Act 1976. This legislation has been shown to provide an appropriate range of specific and general legislative functions and powers to deal with prevention, monitoring, control and eradication of plant pests. In addition, the various Tasmanian Government agency responsibilities are detailed in the Tasmanian Emergency Management Plan, which includes details of biosecurity emergency response arrangements.
Lead agency: Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR Vic)
The Biosecurity branch of DEDJTR Vic delivers biosecurity and product integrity programs across the agriculture, forest and amenity plant sectors. Activities are guided by the state’s Biosecurity Strategy. The aim is to minimise the impact of EPP incidents on the environment and production systems and maintain access to local and overseas markets. The Chief Plant Health Officer Unit of the biosecurity branch is responsible for the development, review and monitoring of policies, protocols and procedures in accordance with national and international obligations. The Agriculture Service Biosecurity Operations branch delivers operational functions from a number of regional centres according to technical standards and protocols which are underpinned by the Plant Biosecurity Act 2010. Opportunities are provided under the legislation for producers and marketers to adopt quality assurance arrangements which are subject to regular audit and improvement.
Scientific and diagnostic support is provided by the Biosciences Research Division. It provides expert technical advice to assist incursion response, market access programs and other biosecurity initiatives (e.g. industry biosecurity plans) as well as technical expert representation on national committees and working groups. This Division and its associated Crop Health Services diagnostic business supports biosecurity by providing diagnoses in the areas of entomology, mycology, nematology, virology and bacteriology. Specialist diagnostic services and expertise has also been provided to interstate jurisdictions to support national incursion responses.
Victoria has led and managed national response programs for chestnut blight, giant pine scale and hazelnut mite. Response work also continues for Queensland fruit fly in Greater Sunraysia and surveillance to support the reinstatement of area freedom for blueberry rust.
Targeted surveillance was undertaken to maintain area freedom status for exotic fruit flies, Asian gypsy moth, Asian citrus psyllid, huanglongbing disease, black spruce longhorn beetle, brown spruce longicorn beetle, wood wasps, Japanese pine sawyer beetle and pine wilt nematode. DEDJTR has worked with the Australian Government to investigate and resolve post-border breaches of dwarf honey bee, red imported fire ant and West Indian drywood termite. Officers also investigated a significant number of suspected emergency plant pests reported by industry and the community.
Lead agency: Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA)
Maintaining market access and productive capacity for the agriculture and food sector are the key drivers for DAFWA investment in biosecurity services. This contributes to market competitiveness, profitability and sustainability in WA. Biosecurity services are delivered through a network of dedicated and skilled staff throughout the state.
Plant biosecurity in WA is governed mainly by the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007. This Act establishes a modern biosecurity regulatory system to control the entry, establishment, spread and impact of pests, control the use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals, establish standards to ensure the safety and quality of agricultural products and raise funds for biosecurity-related purposes.