National Biosecurity Committee - Meeting 16 - Communique

The National Biosecurity Committee (NBC) met on 8 August 2013 and considered the following issues:

Implementation of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity (IGAB)

Members noted the outcomes of a strategic planning workshop held the previous day. Participants reviewed the IGAB implementation program and considered longer term strategic issues to assist in identifying potential biosecurity trends/issues and how governments can position themselves to address these.

National biosecurity information governance agreement

Members discussed a draft National Biosecurity Information Governance Agreement for submission to the Primary Industries Standing Committee (PISC) for signature. Members will seek advice on the Agreement before providing to PISC. The Agreement will implement overarching arrangements governing the structures and processes through which Commonwealth, State and Territory biosecurity authorities will work together to develop, maintain and share national biosecurity information.

Definitions of national interest and national significance

Members broadly discussed proposed definitions of national interest and national significance for biosecurity decision-making for the purposes of consultation with stakeholders.

National biosecurity investment framework

Members broadly discussed the overall direction of proposed guiding principles for biosecurity investment for the purposes of consultation. Members noted that the principles will form part of a broader national decision making and investment framework being developed under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity.

Biosecurity emergency management maturity assessment

Members noted the outcomes of a self-assessment activity undertaken by jurisdictions to measure their ability to respond to a biosecurity incident, and identify and address common areas requiring national attention. Members noted that further work is being undertaken to identify how these high priority areas of preparedness can be addressed.

Outcomes and performance standards framework for benchmarking

Members endorsed an outcomes-based performance standards framework and maturity matrix to be used by jurisdictions to assess their ability to meet their normal commitments under the National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement, and identify strengths and areas for improvement. The framework and matrix can also be used by signatories to the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement and the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed.

National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement (NEBRA) legislative reviews

Members noted progress by each jurisdiction in reviewing their legislation, regulations and administrative arrangements to ensure they support their commitments under the NEBRA.

New biosecurity information system

Members discussed progress to implement a new information management system to manage emergency response and surveillance for pests and diseases. The Committee also agreed to establish working groups to develop arrangements for the exchange of data and ongoing support and maintenance of data and data standards.

Implementation of the National Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) Action Plan

Many of the actions identified in the National FMD Action Plan have been completed, with the remainder either ongoing or on track for completion. Members agreed that, with the likelihood of the Action Plan being wound up by the next NBC meeting in February 2014, it was important to ensure that work would continue on the high priority risk areas to seek solutions, including joint industry and government actions. Members agreed to include FMD preparedness as a standing item for future NBC meetings.

AQUAVETPLAN Disease Strategy Manuals

Members discussed the operation of AQUAVETPLAN disease strategy manuals in the absence of formally agreed arrangements for emergency aquatic animal diseases, and possible ways forward.

Implementation of the Honey Bee Industry and Pollination Continuity Strategy should varroa mite become established in Australia (varroa continuity strategy)

Members noted progress in implementing the varroa continuity strategy and in the development by industry of an overarching National Honey Bee and Pollination Biosecurity Management Strategy. The latter will allow industry to integrate the outcomes of the varroa continuity strategy and other biosecurity activities.

Review of the Long-term Containment Strategy for Exotic Fruit Flies in Torres Strait

Members noted the success of the Long-term Containment Strategy for Exotic Fruit Flies in Torres Strait in protecting mainland Australia from exotic fruit flies, and progress of a review considering options for cost sharing and administering the Strategy with beneficiary industries. 

Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA) eradication program

Members noted work being undertaken by Queensland in developing options for potential contributions by private beneficiaries and risk creators to the Red Imported Fire Ant eradication program.