Australia needs to do more to make sure everyone can be a biosecurity ranger.
That’s the view of Federal Assistant Agriculture Minister Anne Ruston, who fears there aren’t enough resources to monitor Australia’s vast borders.
Asked whether she was confident the country was doing the best it could to ensure the biosecurity of Australia, Senator Ruston admitted to an agricultural forum: ‘‘No, I don’t think we are’’.
‘‘This is going to be controversial,’’ she told the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences Outlook 2017 conference in Canberra last Wednesday.
‘‘I think the ever-changing, the ever-increasing mobility of goods and people presents us with an extraordinary challenge.’’
Senator Ruston said it only took one ‘‘idiot’’ to order something they shouldn’t online and then dispose of the wrapping and you had a biosecurity breach.
It’s not possible to screen every single item that comes into Australia.
She admitted there were already limited resources and populations along Australia’s expansive coast with millions of entry points.
‘‘I think the bigger challenge we face is trying to make sure that every single one of you and every single person in Australia understands the importance of biosecurity.’’
Australia needs a much better education campaign to make people aware of the potential damage of being silly, she said.
‘‘Most often people do things because they just don’t know any different.’’
The minister cited the recent green prawn import ban amid the white spot outbreak and recalled asking bait shops whether they were aware they couldn’t be selling such prawns.
‘‘Every single Australian needs to be a biosecurity ranger,’’ she said.
Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce also warned the conference Australia could not afford a major biosecurity breach.
‘‘Foot-and-mouth disease would be a $50billion hit to our economy,’’ Mr Joyce said.
‘‘There would be further multi-billion dollar hits to our economy if there were outbreaks of screw fly, Panama race4, TB, or brucellosis.’’