Message from the CEO – August 2023

August 24, 2023

The critical need for ongoing national discussions to promote a common understanding, collaboration, and consistency across government, researchers, growers, and other industry stakeholders, was highlighted again this month.

In mid-July I attended an international forum in Brisbane to manage hitchhiker biosecurity risks associated with sea containers. As concerns surrounding the international movement of hitchhiker pests via sea containers rise, Australia is spearheading international efforts to manage biosecurity risks associated with the sea container pathway. The workshop brought together global stakeholders, including government representatives, international organisations and international peak industry bodies, fostering valuable discussions on managing biosecurity risks associated with the sea container pathway.

From 1 July 2023, the Australian Government has increased cost recovery for delivering biosecurity activities for risk creators and importers. An average price increase of 28% across biosecurity fee and charge points commenced this year and now fully reflect costs for the first time since 2015. Government is currently consulting on the best way to design and implement these arrangements. If you would like to be involved, please register your interest.

In late July, the National Fruit Fly Council hosted the bi-annual National Fruit Fly Symposium in Adelaide. The two-day hybrid event focussed on understanding the challenges and many interactions in the fruit fly system and identifying key solutions and improvements for future national success. The event reiterated the need for a strong nationally coordinated fruit fly system to ensure growers and governments have the tools to understand and successfully manage the threat. With 120 delegates in attendance, there was real value in having industry and government stakeholders in one room to address fruit fly issues at a national level.

We rounded off July with a two-day Board Strategy workshop. Discussions centred around our current business model and its performance and role in enabling us in delivering our Strategic Plan 2022-27 to strengthen the Australian plant biosecurity system.

Last week, we celebrated National Science Week. At PHA we work to enhance plant health, to assist in the trade of Australia’s produce, to safeguard and support the future of our plant industries, and to preserve a healthy environment. Central to this, is having data and technology available to improve how we make decisions and respond to biosecurity threats. By adapting technology, we can improve our ability in both surveillance and diagnostics. National Science Week provided a great opportunity to share our knowledge and shine a spotlight on the important role of science in plant biosecurity and encourage an interest in science in general, and as a career pathway.

This week I presented at the Seed Business Convention in Adelaide on how serious plant diseases can be seed-borne, resulting in significant crop losses and how the uncontrolled movement of infected seed between regions can result in the rapid expansion of the area affected by plant diseases.

This month, we would like to congratulate Dr Yvonne Ogaji on recently receiving her PhD that was conferred in July. Well done Yvonne!

We have another great edition lined up for you with a good mix of information and stories from a range of sectors. Happy reading!

Sarah Corcoran
CEO, Plant Health Australia