The National Biosecurity Committee (NBC) is formally established under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity (IGAB). The IGAB was signed on 13 January, with a revised IGAB (IGAB2) coming into effect in January 2019. The Commonwealth and all states and territories are signatories to the IGAB2, which was developed in response to the recommendations of the 2017 Priorities for Australia’s biosecurity system report.
The NBC provides advice to the
Agriculture Senior Officials Committee on national biosecurity, and on progress in implementing the
Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity. The goal of a national biosecurity system is to minimise the impact of pests and diseases on Australia’s economy, environment and the community, with resources targeted to manage risk effectively across the continuum, while facilitating trade and the movement of animals, plants, people, goods, vectors and vessels to, from and within Australia.
The NBC is also responsible for managing a national, strategic approach to biosecurity threats relating to plant and animal pests and diseases, marine pests and aquatics, and the impact of these on agricultural production, the environment, community well-being and social amenity.
A core objective of the committee is to promote cooperation, coordination, consistency, and synergies across and between Australian governments. This includes exploring measures to:
- provide assurance that the system is working
- better connect the biosecurity rationale to market access and trade
- increase visibility and engagement with sectoral committees
- engage, partner and communicate with relevant stakeholders, as required
- coordinate biosecurity investment in the national interest.
The NBC is supported by four sectoral committees and a communications and engagement network. These provide policy, technical and scientific advice on matters affecting their sector, covering all pests and disease risks to the terrestrial and aquatic (inland water and marine) animals and plants, and the environment:
The NBC forms expert groups and short term task specific groups from time to time to provide advice and deliver key initiatives. There is currently one expert group progressing work in a priority reform area:
The NBC meets face to face twice yearly, generally in March and September and by teleconference as required.
Secretariat support is provided by the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture.
The Secretary of the Department of Agriculture chairs the NBC as a member of the Agricultural Senior Officials Committee. Membership comprises senior officials from the Australian, state and territory primary industry and/or environment agencies and jurisdictions may have up to two representatives.
Animal Health Australia, Plant Health Australia and the Australian Local Government Association may be invited as observers.
NBC membership list
Key issues considered at previous NBC meetings are outlined in the communiqués listed below.
Biosecurity Roundtable was first held in July 2008. Since that time, it has become an annual event focusing on providing biosecurity stakeholders the opportunity to engage directly with federal, state and territory government representatives.
National Environment and Community Biosecurity Research, Development and Extension Strategy
National Environment and Community Biosecurity Research, Development and Extension Strategy was endorsed by the National Biosecurity Committee in March 2016.
The strategy aims to establish a national, coordinated and strategic approach to:
- maximise benefits from past and future investments
- generate cost-effective environmental and community biosecurity research and development.
National Biosecurity Response Team Arrangements 2017-2019
The Committee has endorsed the
National Biosecurity Response Team Arrangements 2017-2019. This provides guidance to agencies involved in the established and management of the Team and a point of reference for future discussions in preparing for and responding to biosecurity incidents that may involve the Team.
National RD&E Priorities for Invasive Plants and Animals 2016-2020
The Committee endorsed the
National Research Development & Extension Priorities for Invasive Plants and Animals 2016-2020 in February 2017, which will assist in aligning funding and resources with priority investment areas for invasive plants and animals.
National Biosecurity Research, Development & Extension (RD&E) Priorities
The National Biosecurity Committee (NBC) endorsed the National Biosecurity Research, Development & Extension (RD&E) Priorities in June 2017. The priorities will give a more unified, strategic and nationally consistent focus to biosecurity research and support improved national biosecurity outcomes.
The National Biosecurity RD&E Priorities are:
- Data and intelligence (prevent exotic pests and diseases from entering and establishing in Australia) - Prevention
- Surveillance and diagnostics (understand and quantify the impact of pests and diseases) - Preparedness
- Treatment and recovery (demonstrate the absence of pests and diseases) - Eradication
- Risk and decision tools (improved decision-making tools and risk analysis) - Containment
- General surveillance (manage the pests and diseases that are already in Australia) - Management
- Communication, community attitudes and awareness (socioeconomic drivers of adopting best practice) - Engagement
These priorities underpin Australia’s risk-based approach to managing the biosecurity system, helping to concentrate efforts on the areas of greatest risk, in a landscape that is changing rapidly and growing in complexity and challenges.
The priorities align with existing jurisdiction strategies, current and proposed biosecurity RD&E activities. They will ensure national research continues to be delivered in a coordinated and collaborative way.
Jim Thompson, Chief Biosecurity Officer from Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has been appointed the national biosecurity RD&E Champion, to oversee progress of the priorities.