Message from the CEO – May 2023

  • Message from the CEO – May 2023 image

The first two weeks of May have been filled to the brim with many opportunities to engage with stakeholders from across the plant biosecurity system. Last week I had the pleasure of giving a keynote presentation at the Entomological Society of Queensland’s (ESQ) Centennial Symposium to mark 100 years of Queensland entomology. During my address, I focused on the success of ESQ and their role in bringing together curious minds, facilitating knowledge sharing, problem solving and progressing our collective understanding of Australia’s entomological fauna. The Centennial Symposium also provided a great opportunity for me to reflect on my career journey and the lessons insects have taught me about how to protect our unique agricultural and environmental assets.

From entomologists to diagnosticians and surveillance practitioners, the Annual Diagnostics and Surveillance Workshop (ADSW) is an event not to be missed. The three-day event incorporated shoulder workshops, a field learning activity and plenty of time to network. This year’s theme ‘Implementation through connections’ was prevalent in the range of speakers and topics covered.

Tuesday night’s Federal Budget announcement committing $1bn over four years to strengthen Australia’s biosecurity system to safeguard agriculture production is welcomed. Of particular interest is the move towards a sustainable biosecurity funding model supported by new levy measures. There is still much unknown about the proposed new Biosecurity Protection Levy and Plant Health Australia (PHA) will endeavour to actively engage with the Australian Government to understand the new levy, the impact on our Membership base and how it will be used to strengthen the biosecurity system. This Friday, the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) are hosting a biosecurity webinar aimed at providing clarity on the ongoing work to ensure the biosecurity cost recovery arrangements are fit-for-purpose. For more info and to register, visit:

Another event of significance is the annual International Day of Plant Health. This year, in partnership with the Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative and DAFF, PHA worked to raise awareness and increase action to improve plant health to build a better future. Local celebrations commenced with a presentation highlighting the role of biosecurity partnerships at the Science Exchange event hosted by DAFF and concluded with a plant-based high tea at our Canberra office. Thank you to the PHA team for the community resources and communications materials produced to support this global call-to-action day.

As we look towards the end of the May, the PHA team is diligently preparing for the Plant Industry Forum, General Meeting, Members Forum and Deed meetings. Invitations have been sent to all Members along with the agenda, proxy form and registration link. Our twice-yearly Member meetings provide an occasion to share information, knowledge and innovations in plant biosecurity. They are a highlight on the PHA calendar and I look forward to reconnecting with our Member base at the upcoming meetings.