Message from the CEO – January 2022

  • Message from the CEO – January 2022 image

This year is shaping up to be a busy one for us at Plant Health Australia (PHA) with exciting new projects and collaborations underway.

We are thrilled to announce that the National Fruit Fly Council (NFFC) has secured funding for phase 4 of the project that strategically coordinates fruit fly management in Australia over the next five years (2021 – 2026). Phase 4 is a joint initiative between Hort Innovation and PHA with co-investment from State governments and horticultural industries. The Council will continue to work with growers and fruit fly management community groups across all states and territories to control the pest on a national scale.

CitrusWatch is a new five-year national citrus industry biosecurity program, which is a collaborative effort between Hort Innovation, Citrus Australia, Plant Health Australia, and the Northern Territory Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade (NT DITT) and research group, Cesar Australia, providing surveillance, communications and research support.

Later this year we can look forward to the Australian Biosecurity Symposium that will focus on research, innovation and knowledge sharing across the biosecurity collective. The event will be held on the Gold Coast, Queensland, from 3 – 5 May 2022. The call for abstracts has been extended until 28 January 2022.

On 16 December 2021 I had the opportunity to host a Joint Industry Government Surveillance workshop with 40 representatives from industry and government participating. We discussed the need for improved collaboration and partnership to strengthen biosecurity and surveillance across northern Australia. This was the first workshop in a series with the next one scheduled for March this year.

In late December a quick-thinking traveller who returned from Italy, reported a suspicious bug while in quarantine in Melbourne. It turns out she spotted one of Australia’s high priority exotic pests, brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB). This is a timely reminder that biosecurity is a shared responsibility and to call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881 if you spot anything unusual.

Also in December, the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment finalised amendments to export rules. Among other things, the amended rules now provide additional clarification and regulation of bulk vessels used to export grain and plant products. It is designed to make export regulation easier to understand and comply with. By supporting the export of a broader range of agricultural products it will encourage farmers, producers and exporters to engage in international trade.

As Australia continues facing significant and evolving threats from exotic pests and diseases, PHA remains committed to strengthening the plant biosecurity system in 2022, together with industry and government partners.

Sarah Corcoran
CEO, Plant Health Australia