NPBPS – Introduction


Australia’s plant biosecurity system is dependent on a wide and diverse range of stakeholders including governments, plant industries and the community. The ability of these stakeholders to effectively cooperate and collaborate requires well-developed preparedness and response arrangements across the biosecurity continuum encompassing pre border, border, and post border activities.

A strengthened level of preparedness requires an understanding of introduction pathways along with the risks associated with these pathways. A number of components are required to enhance the capabilities required to prepare for and manage these risks, each of which are necessary to improve existing arrangements across Australia.

  1. Understand biosecurity risks – Awareness of the key threats requires environmental scanning and analysis to identify the high likelihood and high consequence risks together with the assessment of the capacity and capability needed to manage those risks.
  2. Strengthen collaboration and coordination – Preparedness for biosecurity incidents requires ‘all‑of-community’ engagement and partnership with clear articulation of responsibilities.
  3. Invest in preparedness – Responsibilities are shared by government and plant industries to develop and maintain the capability and capacity to respond to, and recover from, biosecurity incidents.
  4. Learn from experience – Applying the lessons learnt during biosecurity incidents and exercises to future preparedness and responses builds capability.


While significant activity has occurred over the last decade to strengthen Australia’s level of preparedness, a range of existing, emerging and growing challenges are increasing the threat of biosecurity risks.

These include factors such as globalisation, international and interstate movement, climate change, tourism and the increasing volume of goods moved[1][2][3][4]. Further compounding these challenges is a number of other trends including the emergence of new plant pests and new pathways (such as online retailers), the shifting geographic spread of existing plant pests and weeds, agricultural expansion and intensification, increased urbanisation and changing land uses[5]. In conjunction with these increasing challenges and trends, there is an ongoing competition for resources across the national plant biosecurity system.

All these factors have combined to place significant pressure on the ability of participants to meet their biosecurity responsibilities, national biosecurity obligations and respond to new and emerging pest risks and pathways.

At the same time, overseas markets for primary produce are becoming more competitive as trading partners strengthen their own biosecurity systems and requirements. Consumer preferences and expectations for information on food safety and quality are driving a greater need to ensure production systems are ethical, effective and safe. Part of these expectations include a growing need to maintain Australia’s favourable biosecurity status over the next decade and into the future.

Fundamental to address this need will be a renewed focus to ensure Australia has the people, resources, infrastructure, policies, standards and tools to address the most important priorities for Australia’s plant biosecurity system.

This strategy focuses on addressing these challenges over the next ten years through provision of a long‑term policy focus, coupled with a process of regular monitoring, review and reporting against the goals and actions. The strategy aims to remain agile and responsive to the changing and demanding biosecurity environment expected over the next decade.

Consultation and development

This strategy has been developed through consultation with a wide range of plant biosecurity stakeholders including:

  • plant biosecurity and environment representatives in Australian, state and territory governments
  • plant industry bodies
  • research and development corporations
  • research bodies
  • local government authorities
  • environmental groups
  • community groups and
  • growers.

Direction and advice to inform development of the strategy was provided by the Plant Biosecurity Preparedness Strategy Working Group (PBPSWG)[6] led by PHA and the Plant Biosecurity Preparedness Working Group (PBPWG)[7] of the Plant Health Committee (PHC). The PBPSWG included membership from plant industry bodies, PHA, the Invasive Species Council and Australian, state and territory governments.

Members of the PBPSWG and the list of organisations/groups engaged are provided in Appendix 2 – Stakeholder consultation.

[1] CSIRO 2014, Australia’s biosecurity future: preparing for future biological challenges, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Canberra.

[2] Grafton, Q, Mullen, J & Williams, J 2015, Australia’s agricultural future: returns, resources, and Risks, final report for the Australian Council of Learned Academics, Melbourne.

[3] Hajkowicz, S & Eady, S 2015, Rural industry futures: Megatrends impacting Australian agriculture over the coming twenty years, report prepared for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Canberra.

[4] Cope, R, Ross, J, Wittmann, T, Prowse T & Cassey, P 2016, Integrative analysis of the physical transport network into Australia, PLOSONE.

[5] Craik, W., Palmer, D. & Sheldrake, R. 2017, Priorities for Australia’s biosecurity system: An independent review of the capacity of the national biosecurity system and its underpinning Intergovernmental Agreement, prepared for the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Canberra, Australia. Available at

[6] PBPSWG was formed by PHA to contribute to the development of the National Plant Biosecurity Preparedness Strategy and implementation plan for the strategy.

[7] PBPWG reports to PHC and aims to improve priority plant pest and system preparedness through national coordination of government preparedness activities.