Outstanding contributions recognised at 2019 Australian Biosecurity Awards


The contributions of industry and government personnel to Australia’s biosecurity system were recognised at the Australian Biosecurity Awards on 5 March 2019.

David Banks Biosecurity Lifetime Achievement Award

The David Banks Biosecurity Lifetime Achievement Award went to Mike Ashton of Biosecurity Queensland. His visionary approach, enthusiasm and willingness to contribute to national plant biosecurity enhancement has made him a highly respected member of Australia’s biosecurity community.

As such, PHA was just one of the organisations to nominate Mike for this award. He was also nominated by the Australian Banana Growers’ Council, the Australian Melon Association, Growcom, Nursery and Garden Industry Australia, and the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

Mike has been instrumental in influencing the paradigm shift to ‘shared responsibility’ and his many achievements over more than 30 years have had a lasting impact on the nation’s biosecurity.

In 1985, he joined the then Queensland Department of Primary Industry as a cadet biosecurity inspector, which led to several roles in plant biosecurity and business management.

Following the papaya fruit fly outbreak in the late 1990, Mike was inspired to create a national plant biosecurity certification scheme that would increase flexibility in managing plant biosecurity risks while ensuring market access.

Mike was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Interstate Certification Assurance Scheme and the successful National Citrus Canker Eradication Program from 2004 to 2009.

He has also been a longstanding member of the national Plant Health Committee and the Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests and represented Queensland as the state’s chief plant health manager.

Collaborative Industry–Government Award

Nathan Hancock, CEO of Citrus Australia, and Sarah Corcoran, Executive Director of the Biosecurity and Animal Welfare Division in the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Resources, are joint winners of the collaborative Industry–Government award. They were recognised for their outstanding commitment to biosecurity and their joint response to citrus canker in the Northern Territory.

Sarah Corcoran has dedicated more than 20 years to the prevention, response and recovery from pests and diseases that threaten the economy and the environment. While with Biosecurity Queensland for ten years, Sarah led and managed to of Australia’s largest national eradication programs, aimed at red imported fire ants and electric ants. Most recently, her strong communication skills have seen her excel in establishing relationships with all players involved in the citrus canker outbreak emergency response in the NT.

Nathan Hancock is a strong advocate for biosecurity within the citrus industry, including overseeing the appointment of a national citrus surveillance coordinator. Since commencing with Citrus Australia in 2011, he has been instrumental in the adoption of new maturity and quality standards for the citrus industry. He is also highly active in representing his industry and producers, strongly advocating for greater communication between government and industry, including during the citrus canker outbreak in the NT.

Farm Biosecurity Producer of the Year Award

The two winners of the 2019 Farm Biosecurity Producer of the Year award – Yarra Valley strawberry grower Luciano Corallo and Queensland cattle farmer Melinee Leather – were also announced at the ABAs.

Luciano won his award for being an early adopter of best farm practice management with a central focus on biosecurity from the farm gate to all parts of production, and Melinee was celebrated as a strong advocate for the importance of biosecurity practices to the long-term viability of individual businesses and the beef industry.

Animal Health Australia (AHA) and Plant Health Australia (PHA), through the Farm Biosecurity Program partner with DAWR to celebrate our primary producers’ biosecurity champions through this award. Read more about the two winners on the Farm Biosecurity website.

For more information about the Australian Biosecurity Awards 2019 view the booklet for the 2019 awards here.