Phases of an emergency plant pest response

There are three phases on an emergency plant pest response, which are outlined in PLANTPLAN.

Investigation and alert phase

A suspect pest is detected and reported to the Chief Plant Health Manager of the state or territory agriculture department. The process of initial and confirmatory identification or diagnosis of the pest will be initiated. The Chief Plant Protection Officer is notified and an outbreak is declared. The Chief Plant Protection Officer will notify the affected parties from government and industry, who are signatories to the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed, and will convene a meeting of the Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests (CCEPP).

If the pest is considered potentially serious, then the relevant state or territory agriculture department may adopt precautionary measures. These measures, depending on the pest, may include:

  • restriction of operations in the area
  • withdrawal of people, vehicles and machinery from the area and disinfection
  • restricted access to the area
  • interim control or containment measures.

The CCEPP determines the feasibility of eradication and makes a recommendation to the National Management Group (NMG). If the NMG decides to proceed with eradication, the CCEPP oversees the preparation of a Response Plan by the lead agency(s). The resources and costs required for the eradication are identified. The NMG approves the Response Plan and national cost sharing arrangements to fund the response.

To determine the feasibility of eradication, the CCEPP considers:

  • technical feasibility including the likelihood of a successful eradication
  • cost/benefit of eradication.

The CCEPP may appoint a Scientific Advisory Panel when additional information or technical advice is required to assist them in their deliberations.

During the investigation and alert phase, the affected area is placed under quarantine until a decision is made on whether to eradicate or control the pest. Once a decision has been made that eradication is feasible and a Response Plan and budget are approved by NMG, efforts enter the operational phase.


Operational phase

The aim of this phase is to eradicate the pest. The lead agency(s) in the states or territories in which the incursion occurs implement and manage the Response Plan, overseen by the CCEPP, providing regular reports to the committee on the progress of the campaign. Meetings of the CCEPP and NMG are convened as required during implementation of the Response Plan. If relevant, the CCEPP may agree to the formation of a Scientific Advisory Panel to provide advice on specific technical matters relating to the effectiveness of the Response Plan and its implementation.


Stand down phase

After the response is complete, or a review determines that eradication is not feasible, records of expenditure and technical reports are provided to Plant Health Australia so that final costs can be calculated.

In the stand down phase, all operations are wound down. Where a plant pest emergency was not confirmed, those involved will be advised that the threat no longer exists.

Where an eradication or control campaign has taken place, quarantine measures will be finalised and reviewed.


The role of industry in the emergency response

Role
Key function
NMG representative Funding approval
CCEPP representative Technical advice and industry information
SAP representative Specific technical advice
Categorisation group Inform estimates of pest impact
Industry Liaison Co-ordinator Industry communication and input
Industry Liaison Officer Local industry communication and input
ORC reference group Develop owner reimbursement cost evidence framework

What happens if the pest can’t be eradicated?

‘Transition to Management’ guidelines have been established where it is recognised that pest eradication programs are not technically feasible.

These guidelines are being trialled with a number of former eradication programs including Asian honey bees and Myrtle rust which are being managed by PHA on behalf of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture.