The National Biosecurity Committee (NBC) is formally established under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity (IGAB). The IGAB was signed on 13 January 2012 and signatories include all states and territories except Tasmania.
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 February and August and by teleconference as required.
Secretariat support is provided by the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
The Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources chairs the NBC as a member of the Agricultural Senior Officials Committee. Membership comprises senior officials from the Australian, state and territory primary industry or environment department and jurisdictions may have up to two representatives.
Animal Health Australia and Plant Health Australia 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 Biosecurity Statement
Priorities for Australia’s Biosecurity System review report noted that there is no single, overarching national policy statement or strategy shared by all system participants.
The report recommended that the NBC develop a National Biosecurity Statement (the Statement) through an open, transparent and collaborative process. In accepting the report in July 2017, Agriculture Ministers agreed that early effort should be made towards a Statement. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is supporting consultation on the Statement.
The Statement will present a common and unifying approach to biosecurity:
- articulating a national vision and goals
- providing clarity on everyone’s roles and responsibilities
- outlining priorities and principles for managing biosecurity risk.
A National Biosecurity Statement consultation workshop was held in Melbourne on 22 March 2018. Representatives from industry, environmental organisations and government participated in the workshop.
A working group was formed at this workshop to assist in preparing a draft Statement for public consultation. Members of the group include representatives from:
- Grain Producers Australia
- Victorian Farmers Federation Horticulture Group
- NSW Farmers Association
- Australian Pork Ltd
- National Farmers Federation
- Agriculture Victoria
- Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative
- Wool Producers Australia
- Invasive Species Council
- Australasian Weed Society.
The working group met throughout 2018 to create a draft of the Statement and to incorporate comments. The draft Statement was open for comment from 7 June to 31 October 2018 through the department’s “Have Your Say” platform. Twenty four submissions were made by community, industry, environmental and government groups. Further feedback was received through the 2018 state and territory biosecurity roundtables and forums held by Plant Health Australia and Animal Health Australia.
The post-consultation version of the Statement was presented to stakeholders at the National Biosecurity Forum on 29 November 2018.
The Statement is now in the final stages of consideration and review with an aim to launch by mid-2019.
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.