National Biosecurity Committee – Meeting 18 – Communiqué

The National Biosecurity Committee (NBC) met on 7 August 2014 and considered the following issues:

NBC structural arrangements

The committee elected to streamline and refresh its committee structure, and bring together related bodies to maximise administrative efficiency and reduce overhead costs, including:

  • merging two of its sector-based subcommittees – the Australian Weeds Committee and the Vertebrate Pests Committee – to form a new Invasive Pests Committee
    • this recognises that many of issues managed by the two previous committees overlap and frequently concern the same stakeholder and industry groups.
    • this doesn’t reduce the important work being done by the two groups including the review of the Australian Weeds Strategy and Australian Pest Animal Strategy. Drafts of the revised strategies are expected to be released for public comment in September 2014.             
  • changing the structure of its Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity (IGAB) working groups with a view to forming a single taskforce to oversee continued implementation of IGAB initiatives
  • disbanding its Stakeholder Engagement Consultative Group in favour of other avenues to re-energise the NBC’s relationship with stakeholders.

Proposed funding model

The committee noted progress in a project to develop a possible new funding model for eradication programs outside cost-sharing arrangements covered by the existing deeds.

NEBRA benchmarking update

The committee noted the progress of a self-assessment process undertaken by jurisdictions to gauge their ability to meet their normal commitments under the National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement (NEBRA). The self-assessments highlighted potential areas for improvement at a national level, many of which are already being addressed under the IGAB. 

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

The committee noted that many of the actions identified in the National FMD Action Plan have been completed, with the remainder either ongoing or on track for completion. It was agreed that Animal Health Committee will provide a further update on Australia’s state of FMD preparedness for NBC’s consideration in February 2015. Members also noted that the National Livestock Standstill Exercise Program, known as Exercise Odysseus, is well underway, with more than 20 exercises conducted and the remainder scheduled for completion by early 2015.