National Biosecurity Committee - Meeting 15 - Communique

The National Biosecurity Committee (NBC) met for the fifteenth time on 26 February 2013 and considered the following issues:

National Biosecurity Committee 2013-14 Workplan
Members considered and endorsed the NBC’s work plan for 2013-14.

Implementation of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity (IGAB)
Members noted the activities undertaken by its working groups tasked with implementing priority reforms to the national biosecurity system under the IGAB.

Established pest and disease framework
Members considered and agreed to the overall approach and direction of a draft national policy framework for the management of established pests and diseases of national significance, for the purposes of consultation. Members noted that elements of the framework required further definition and that important stakeholder engagement was still to occur.

National Engagement and Communication Framework
Members endorsed a National Communication and Engagement Framework, subject to minor amendments, which will provide guidance for jurisdictions when developing communication or engagement strategies or plans for biosecurity matters.

National Onshore Biosecurity Framework
Members noted the progress of the development of an integrated national framework for onshore pest and disease management.

New biosecurity information system
Members noted the work to date on the new biosecurity information system for management of emergency pests and diseases and routine surveillance and agreed for a further paper to provide more information to be circulated out-of-session, with the issue to be discussed in more detail at the Primary Industries Standing Committee meeting.

Implementation of the National Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Action Plan
Members noted that good progress continues to be made on implementing the National FMD Action Plan. Major achievements include Standing Council on Primary Industries’ endorsement of the revised AUSVETPLAN FMD Disease Strategy Manual and completion of a study of resource requirements for an FMD outbreak. Members noted that each jurisdiction is undertaking an inventory of current resources available for an emergency animal disease outbreak as a basis for identifying and addressing gaps.

FMD national livestock standstill exercise
Members agreed for a national FMD livestock standstill simulation exercise to be conducted. The exercise will comprise of a graduated series of jurisdictional and national discussion exercises, each focused on one or more of the exercise objectives, supplemented by one or more state/territory-based field exercises. The exercise will include relevant industries.

Proposed Australian Testing Centre for Marine Pests 
Members noted a proposal for further research to validate molecular surveillance methods for the detection of marine pests. If validated, these methods would form the basis for the South Australian Research and Development Institute to provide national marine pest diagnostic services. Members agreed for the proposal to be put to the Primary Industries Standing Committee for discussion, noting the preparedness of some jurisdictions to contribute. Members also noted the support of Ports Australia for the proposal.

Contingency plan for red imported fire ant (RIFA) management
Members noted the progress of the development of a contingency plan for the management of red imported fire ants in the event that preliminary results on delimitation activities (including remote sensing) suggest containment with a view to eradication may no longer be feasible.

Vertebrate Pest Committee (VPC) / Australian Weeds Committee (AWC) inter-committee collaboration
Members noted the Vertebrate Pest Committee and Australian Weeds Committees’ efforts to work together more collaboratively and streamline arrangements.

Review and funding for the Torres Strait Fruit Fly Strategy
Members noted that a review would be undertaken of the Long-Term Containment Strategy for Exotic Fruit Flies in the Torres Strait. The Committee agreed to seek the agreement of the Primary Industries Standing Committee to funding for continuation of the Strategy in 2013-14 while the review is conducted.

Update on locust season
Members noted an update on the 2012-13 locust season. There have been few detections of any significance.

Handling of bee issues
Members noted a report from the Australian Government on roles and responsibilities for management of bee-related issues at the Commonwealth level.