Message from the CEO – February 2024

February 22, 2024

We are only eight weeks into the new year and 2024 has already presented quite a few opportunities for us to highlight PHA’s role in the plant biosecurity system and how our multi-faceted work strengthens the system for the benefit of the economy, environment and community.

Earlier this month I was invited to speak at the AgForce Queensland’s Biosecurity Committee Meeting. AgForce QLD is a peak organisation representing local grower and producer interests in growth, competitiveness and profitability and my address covered the power of partnerships in raising biosecurity awareness, galvanising action, and driving behaviour change.

Last week Jess Arnold, PHA’s Chief Operating Officer, Lucy Tran-Nguyen, General Manager: Partnerships and Innovation, and I appeared before the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport (RRAT) Legislation Committee for Senate estimates. During the proceedings, I was questioned on the proposed Biosecurity Protection Levy (BPL) – previously announced as part of the 2023-24 Budget and scheduled to be introduced on 1 July 2024 – and I was afforded the opportunity to outline our Member concerns as provided in submissions to the Have Your Say consultation process. A recording of the session is available on the Parliament of Australia’s website (with PHA’s appearance at 22:35:11.).

Following the consultation process and on the same day as Senate estimates, the Australian Government announced a revised BPL design to address the key concerns raised through the HYS platform. Read more about these changes on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s website. Earlier this month, the RRAT also released the Primary Industries Levies Bill 2023 and related bills inquiry report under the modernising levies legislation initiative.

Having a future-focus requires us to outline the actions and portfolio of work PHA will undertake in the new financial year in our Annual Operational Plan (AOP). The PHA team are currently working on developing the 2024-25 AOP and this year, the draft AOP will once again be presented to Members at the AOP webinar on Thursday, 28 March 2024 followed by a Member feedback period during April. The updated draft AOP incorporating Member feedback, will be distributed to Members in May ahead of the General Meeting.

As we look ahead, the next few weeks and months provide more chances for Member engagement and networking at:

  • The annual ABARES Outlook 2024 hybrid conference themed ‘Shaping the Future: Opportunities, risks and resilience’ will explore ideas and evidence to progress issues that affect the agricultural, fisheries and forestry sector. The program features 60 Australian and international speakers and panellists from industry and government across 12 sessions. Registrations are still open.
  • The third Australian Biosecurity Symposium, the flagship event of the Biosecurity Collective, will once again be held on the Gold Coast in Queensland, from 27- 29 August 2024 and will be MC’d by Australian author, environmental educator and television presenter Costa Georgiadis. Join us by making use of early bird registration discount rates (including group discounts) to connect with key industry decision-makers, innovators, influential voices, and dedicated researchers in Australia. We are keen to hear from experts that can help shape the way forward for Australia’s biosecurity system – abstract submissions close on Sunday, 31 March 2024.
  • The inaugural FutureAg Conference and Exhibition is taking place at the Melbourne Showgrounds in Ascot Vale, Victoria, from 17-19 April 2024. Registrations are currently open and tickets can be booked online. Come and say g’day to our digital team who will be showcasing our diagnostic and surveillance systems.

I look forward to reconnecting with our Members at the upcoming industry events and our AOP webinar scheduled for March.