Message from the CEO – April 2023

  • Message from the CEO – April 2023 image

The first quarter of 2023 has certainly been eventful for PHA. In the past month alone we’ve completed two new online training courses, delivered Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD) training to Members, delivered eight state/territory-based workshops for the National Action Plan for Pests of Timber and Trees, and published reports for three national research and development (R&D) projects. And that’s not taking into account the numerous Member liaison meetings, events, awards, forums and webinars we hosted, attended or participated in.

Partnerships and a shared biosecurity culture are key to a strong biosecurity system and the Australian Biosecurity Awards recognise biosecurity champions who are committed to supporting and promoting Australia’s biosecurity. Congratulations to Brigid and Owen Price (Price Cattle Company in Queensland) who won the Farm Biosecurity Producer of the Year Award (co-sponsored by PHA and AHA under the Farm Biosecurity Program), Dr Darryl Hardie who won the Dr David Banks Biosecurity Lifetime Achievement Award for his significant contribution to national plant biosecurity during his 47-year career at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia; and Trevor Ranford for winning the Industry Award for his contribution to the management of the 2010 to 2020 national chestnut blight emergency response.

The following day, I had the pleasure of addressing the National Biosecurity Forum on PHA’s integrated digital systems, the value of data and the link between data and biosecurity. At the same event Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt reiterated the importance of biosecurity not only to the agricultural sector, natural environment, international trade but to food security and the Australian way of life. The increase in risks, complexity and costs continues to drive the need for a strong, smart and sustainable system and the Australian Government is committed to implementing a sustainable biosecurity funding model that will protect Australia’s reputation as a respected trading partner across the globe. Minister Watt also commended stakeholders for their diligence and discipline in protecting Australia from exotic pests and diseases.

April is PHA’s birthday month and this year marks 23 years of PHA building a strong and resilient plant biosecurity system for the benefit of the economy, environment and community. This mission is reflected in our three strategic priorities and the 2023-24 Annual Operational Plan which outlines our key activities for the next 12 months. Our AOP was presented to Members at the end of March and the Member consultation period concludes at the end of this month. The updated AOP will be distributed to Members in early May ahead of the Member meetings at the end of May.

We have another full month ahead of us in May. In early May, PHA will host the Annual Diagnostics and Surveillance Workshop (ADSW) in Canberra. ADSW is a networking event for plant biosecurity diagnosticians and surveillance practitioners to come together to share knowledge and learnings. Guest speakers include renowned Australian biosecurity, diagnostics and surveillance experts including Dr Gabrielle Vivian-Smith (Australia’s Chief Plant Protection Officer), Dr Jo Luck (Director of the Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative), Dr Alexander Schmidt-Lebuhn (Senior Research Scientist at CSIRO), Dr Kevin Thiele (Director of the Biodiversity Data Repository project at the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water), Prof Geoff Grossel (Director of Biosecurity Research at Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry), John McDonald (National Biosecurity Manager at Greenlife Industry Australia) and Irene Kernot (Research Program Manager Horticulture at the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research).

Another key event is the International Day of Plant Health (IDPH) on 12 May. The United Nations designated this day to raise global awareness of the role of plant health in ending hunger, reducing poverty and protecting biodiversity and the environment. We encourage you to support IDPH and host a morning tea on the day. In collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative (PBRI) PHA has developed a stakeholder and morning tea pack to help you to promote IDPH and host your own event.

As we look towards the last two months of the financial year, the PHA team will focus on completing and progressing initiatives designed to strengthen our plant biosecurity system.