Background to the NPBS

 In 1996 a review of the Australian biosecurity system resulted in the report Australian Quarantine: A shared responsibility, otherwise known as the Nairn Review. This review instituted some significant changes in the operation of Australia’s biosecurity system which in the main has since been recognised as highly successful.

Time was due for a specific National Plant Biosecurity Strategy to ensure the continued success and improvement of Australia’s internationally recognised plant health system.

Through the recommendations, the Strategy helps to maintain and improve the outcomes the system currently provides, namely:

Market access

Australia’s agriculture and forestry sectors are strongly export focussed, and our health status is crucial to maintaining and developing overseas markets. The ability to gain, maintain and re-gain market access effectively provides Australia’s agricultural industries with security and an advantage over competing exporters.

Production sustainability

Biosecurity provides Australia’s crops protection from the negative impacts associated with plant pests, such as produce damage and reduced yield, in turn reducing production inputs such as chemicals and decreasing management costs.

The strategy development process

Plant Health Australia was tasked with facilitating the development of the Strategy due to its position as a lead body representing many of the Strategy’s key stakeholders. An initial ‘Project plan for consultation’ was circulated to Members early 2007.

In February 2008 PHA held a two-day open workshop to set the foundation for preparation of the National Plant Biosecurity Strategy. The workshop was well attended, with over 80 individuals from across government, industry and research backgrounds from Australia and New Zealand.

The workshop provided an opportunity for key stakeholders to discuss their collective aspirations for Australia’s Plant Health system. Outcomes from the workshop included a shared understanding of the scope of the NPBS, priority areas of attention, strategies for getting there, and agreement on the next steps.

A drafting group was established and a framework of content created based on the wealth of information captured at the workshop and other forums. A first draft of the Strategy was presented to Members at PHA’s General Meeting on 28 May 2008.

Next steps

A collaborative approach in developing the Strategy was critical to the ongoing success of Australia’s plant health and the continued achievement of the organisations involved. Therefore the full engagement of all stakeholders, including government, industry and research and development organisations, was seen as an essential and necessary part of the developmental process.