15 February 2017
The National Biosecurity Committee (NBC) met on 15 February 2017 in Melbourne, Victoria and welcomed New Zealand to its first meeting as a full member of the Committee. The Committee noted that New Zealand’s membership on NBC represents an important opportunity to improve the two countries mutual exchange of knowledge and experience across our shared biosecurity challenges.
Jurisdictions provided updates on recent detections, incursions and responses including prawn white spot disease in south east Queensland and tomato and potato psyllid in Western Australia.
The Committee agreed to improve Australia’s ability to rapidly respond to pest and disease incursions through the National Biosecurity Response Team Arrangements 2017-2019 and a significant funding increase. The National Biosecurity Response Team will be fully operational from 1 July 2017, providing a shared cross-sectoral rapid response capability to assist in response to biosecurity incidents.
The Committee endorsed a list of 22 research, development and extension priority areas for invasive plants and animals. This list was developed by the Invasive Plants and Animals Committee and are grouped under the four program areas of detection, prevention and eradication; biocontrol; new and sustainable management options; and socioeconomic drivers.
The Committee progressed a number of other national priorities.
Emergency Aquatic Animal Disease Arrangements
The Committee was briefed on the development of an Emergency Aquatic Animal Disease Arrangement and agreed to reconvene face-to-face in March 2017 to provide input and guidance to the project team in advance of the finalisation of a draft Agreement by the end of 2017.
The review of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity (IGAB)
The Committee shared jurisdictional views on the draft IGAB review released in December 2016. It noted that the review of the IGAB is an important opportunity to reflect on the achievements of, and possible improvements to, the current arrangements. The Committee reemphasised the key role of the national biosecurity system in protecting the Australian environment, industry, trade and human health. All Australian jurisdictions confirmed that they will be providing a submission on the draft report.
Nebra self-assessment and peer review
The Committee endorsed the National Environment Biosecurity Response Agreement (NEBRA) self-assessment and peer review process, which has been trialled by three jurisdictions. Peer review involved jurisdictions assessing each other’s abilities to meet their commitments under the NEBRA. The Committee agreed to prioritise the peer review process to enable its completion and consider its potential expansion.
Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA)
The Committee noted the preparations being undertaken in advance of the roll out of the enhanced eradication programme for RIFA in south east Queensland from July 2017.
Biosecurity Act 2015
The Commonwealth advised of the tabling in parliament of amendments to the Biosecurity Act to implement the International Ballast Water Convention expected to come into effect in September 2017.
The Commonwealth updated the Committee on development of policies for the use of onshore and emergency powers under the Biosecurity Act and committed to working with jurisdictions to ensure they are complimentary and consistent with state and territory response powers.
Property Identification Codes (PIC)
The Committee agreed to investigate improving traceability for outbreaks and market access through introducing greater consistency in PIC arrangements across jurisdictions for both plant and animal sectors. A PIC is a unique identifier for land used to produce livestock and prescribed crops. This will be done in collaboration with the Animal Health Committee and Plant Health Committee before being taken out for industry consultation.
NBC Strategic Workshop
The Committee held a strategic workshop to discuss innovation in biosecurity on 16 February 2017. This included a briefing on recent developments in genetic modification technologies and an update on the progress being made toward the delivery of the National Carp Control Plan and the release of the RHDV1 K5 strain of rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus.
The National Biosecurity Committee is responsible for managing a national, strategic approach to biosecurity threats relating to plant and animal pests and diseases, marine and aquatic pests, and the impact of these on agricultural production, the environment, community wellbeing and social amenity. The committee provides advice to the Agriculture Senior Officials Committee and the Agriculture Ministers’ Forum on national biosecurity issues, and on progress in implementing the Intergovernmental Agreement on biosecurity.
For further information about the National Biosecurity Committee, you can visit the
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.