Board Meeting 110

March 27, 2023

The Plant Health Australia (PHA) Board recently travelled to Brisbane, Queensland to hold Board Meeting 110 (BM110). Their itinerary included spending valuable time with Members discussing priorities and gaining an increased understanding of the importance of biosecurity within their operations.

BM 110 was held on Monday 27 February 2023, hosted by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF). The meeting had the full attendance of the PHA Board as well as Chief Executive Officer Sarah Corcoran, Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary Michael Milne and Chief Operating Officer Jessica Arnold.

The BM110 agenda included discussion of strategic issues, a review of financial reports, risk management plans and policy, Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD) management and compliance. The Board also endorsed preparations for the 2023-24 Annual Operational Plan, including Member engagement and webinar in March and presentation to Members at the General Meeting in May.

The Board discussed several topics and issues relevant to implementation of company strategy, operations and PHA Members including:

  • The significant investment of company time in the first half of the financial year on incursion management, nearing the total budget allocation for the entire year. This result indicates the increased ‘risk and result’ of plant pest incursions and the pressure on the national system with concurrent and increasingly complex incursions. Activities that PHA delivers include the EPPRD custodian role; advice to affected Parties and the lead agency; and ensuring implementation of cost sharing in accordance with Response Plans, efficiency and financial audits and other checks and balances that ensure a robust and efficient plant biosecurity system.
  • The new pilot Industry Liaison Officer (ILO) Training delivered in Queensland in February with 27 industry participants representing 12 industries attending, and future training scheduled in Tasmania in May
  • PHA’s work in developing EPPRD training for Industry Boards, that was piloted in Brisbane for the Australian Avocados Limited (AAL) Board on 15 February 2023
  • The approval of the Mid-Year Performance Report for 2022- 2023.
  • The results of the PHA Members survey that were presented including favourable feedback that interactions with PHA staff are overwhelmingly positive with 89% having positive interactions in the past 12 months with staff displaying collaboration and integrity values. A more comprehensive outline of the results will be made available to members at the Members meeting in May.
  • Discussion on the methodology, and timeframe for the upcoming PHA Board selection process.

While in Brisbane, the Board met with the Biosecurity Queensland Ministerial Advisory Council (BQMAC) and senior QDAF officials to discuss priorities and opportunities for collaboration. The Board also met with members for a strategic discussion and feedback on the EPPRD, its role in supporting a national approach to biosecurity and PHA’s role as custodian.

The strategic discussions informed planning for the upcoming Deed meeting and Annual Debrief meetings on 1 June, that will include strategic and operational topics and reinforced the need for ongoing engagement and awareness raising on the benefits of partnerships.

Site visits to Steritech and Pohlman’s Nursery provided Directors’ with an overview of the business operations, phytosanitary and biosecurity practices utilised at each of the sites and the important role biosecurity plays in domestic and international market access.

On the final day, the Board had an opportunity to see Australia’s border protection firsthand with visits to the Brisbane International Airport, federal detector dog program and Department Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) Queensland laboratory facilities.

Overall, BM 110 was a productive and successful meeting. Board meeting 111 is scheduled for Tuesday 30 May 2023 prior to the 22nd General Meeting of PHA to be held Wednesday 31 May 2023 in Sydney.