National Biosecurity Committee Meeting 25

7-8 June 2017

The National Biosecurity Committee (NBC) met on 7 and 8 June 2017 in Darwin, Northern Territory.

The Committee took the opportunity to recognise and thank Western Australia representative Kevin Chennell for his service to the Committee and biosecurity more generally, and wish him all the best with his retirement.

Jurisdictions provided updates on current and emerging issues, with a focus on eradication efforts for white spot disease in prawns, banana freckle and giant pine scale. The significant commitment by all jurisdictions and associated industries, including confirmation of proof freedom to facilitate trade, was recognised.

The Committee progressed a number of national priorities, including:

Nationally funded eradication programs – Tomato Potato Psyllid

The Committee agreed that Plant Health Australia (PHA) will undertake a review of the response to Tomato Potato Psyllid (TPP), as well as key learnings identified across plant pest and disease response activities more generally. PHA will report to the next NBC and Agriculture Seniors’ Official Committee (AGSOC) meetings.

Managing long term emergency responses

The Committee was briefed on the experiences of the Northern Territory, as a small jurisdiction, managing long term emergency responses. The Committee agreed that all jurisdictions, PHA and Animal Health Australia (AHA) would continue to work together to build national response planning capabilities.

Implementation Plan for the National Biosecurity Response Team (NBRT) Arrangements

The Committee agreed to the implementation plan for the NBRT and noted that the new team will be operating by 1 July 2017.

Draft Aquatic Deed – Cost Sharing Model

The Committee reviewed a range of cost sharing principles to underpin the aquatic animal disease response deed currently under development and endorsed the role of AHA in progressing consultation on: The principles underlying this arrangement with its industry members.

National Biosecurity Research, Development & Extension (RD&E) Priorities

The Committee endorsed the national biosecurity RD&E priorities, with publication of these to occur shortly (link to Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website).

Gene Drive Research

The Committee noted that the National Health and Medical Research Council and CSIRO have signed onto a set of principles for sponsors and supporters of gene drive research with the potential for pest and disease control.

Property Identification Code

The Committee agreed to develop a national property identification code (PIC) framework for commercial horticulture, viticulture, cropping and grain properties with PHA to assist in taking this initiative forward. AHA will be reviewing the Animal PIC.

Australian weeds strategy and Australian pest animal strategy 2017-2027

The Committee endorsed the National Australian Weeds Strategy 2017-2027 and Australian Pest Animal Strategy 2017-2027, with publication of these to occur shortly on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.

Update on the release of RHDV1 K5 for the control of rabbits

The Committee noted the recent release of the RHDV1 K5 virus has been more effective than anticipated, and recognised the collaborative efforts of government, the community and industry in achieving this outcome.

Sectoral Committee Updates

The Committee noted the following updates from the sectoral committees:

  • the work of the Animal Health Committee on developing a national diagnostic strategy
  • the Plant Health Committee’s progress on interstate trade reforms; surveillance and diagnostics that support emergency response decision-making; and domestic and international trade
  • the progress of Marine Pest Sectoral Committee on its National Strategic Plan for Marine Pest Biosecurity 2017-2022 and thanks to Dr Robyn Martin for her chairing of the committee and welcome to Dr Andrew Sanger who will now take on this role
  • the Invasive Plants and Animals Committee oversaw the successful release in March 2017 of RHDV1 K5 for the biological control of rabbits, and the finalisation of the Australian Weeds Strategy and Australian Pest Animal Strategy, and
  • the work of the National Biosecurity Emergency Preparedness Expert Group on establishing the National Biosecurity Response Team and implementation arrangements for this team.

NBC Strategic Workshop

The Committee discussed trade and market access on 7 June 2017 and behavioural economics and stakeholder engagement on 8 June 2017.

The Committee looked at issues relating to assessing and managing biosecurity risks for international and domestic trade, Interstate Certification Arrangements, dispute resolution and recognising the importance of good biosecurity practices in facilities, trade, both across state borders and internationally. It then worked through how each jurisdiction engages and communicates with its stakeholders on biosecurity, including approaches to encourage awareness, to build shared responsibility and compliance.


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.
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