Message from the CEO – October 2022

  • Message from the CEO – October 2022 image

Welcome to the October edition of Tendrils.

A quick news scan over the past couple of weeks has shown that biosecurity continues to be a hot topic with increased understanding of the pressures the plant biosecurity system is facing due to the rise in volume of trade, climate change and spread of pests and diseases.

A strong and resilient plant biosecurity system requires improved mechanisms and tools to minimise pest and disease impacts on the agricultural sector and protect our food security. The Biosecurity Amendment (Strengthening Biosecurity) Bill 2022 introduced into Parliament late last month proposes changes to the Biosecurity Act 2015 including:

  • strengthened pre-border measures
  • effective data sharing mechanisms
  • increased civil and criminal penalties
  • improved administration of the Biosecurity Act
  • enhanced operation of provisions relating to approved arrangements and compensation.

The proposed Biosecurity Amendment Bill is welcomed as a key step to enhance Australia’s ability to manage risks related to pests and diseases and to ensure the biosecurity system is future-focused and fit-for-purpose.

An updated version of the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD) was also released last month with administrative amendments made to the Schedules of the EPPRD. Next month we celebrate 17 years of the EPPRD. First ratified on 26 October 2005, the Deed was a culmination of a determined effort to create the world’s most progressive plant health partnership arrangement. Happy birthday Deed!

To ensure Australia has the highest calibre of plant pest diagnostic expertise to identify priority and emerging plant pests, requires addressing capacity gaps and delivering professional development pathways for diagnosticians. The first PestBlitz field triage workshop, designed to build capacity and capability in sample collection and processing, and increase knowledge of the complexities of sampling when developing protocols, was recently held in Adelaide. With attendees from across Australia, this workshop is another great example of our proficiency in bringing stakeholders together to support the plant diagnostic system.

Last month, the Board meeting was held in Mildura, Victoria and included citrus industry field visits as well as a trip to a new medicinal cannabis production facility. A key outcome of BM108 was the approval of the Annual Report. A digital version will be available for download on the PHA website in early November. This Annual Report is the final report against the 2016-21 Strategic Plan and associated key performance indicators. Once again, the PHA team has performed well diligently delivering value to our stakeholders.

A mechanism used to evaluate PHA’s performance in terms of programs, initiatives, communications and engagements as well as the value to our member base, is the Member survey. The Member survey will go live in November and will provide members with an opportunity to highlight their biosecurity challenges, current biosecurity activities and level of preparedness. Keep a look out for the online survey link.

A warm welcome to our two new Project Officers Gavin Edwards and Luke McKee who joined the Preparedness and RD&E teams.

If you haven’t already, get social with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. We use these social platforms extensively to share company news, aspects of the biosecurity system, industry events and spotlight our member industries.